REVIEWS: Library and Information Science Research
Electronic Journal ISSN 1058-6768
2000 Volume 10 Issue 1; March.
Bi-annual LIBRES10N1 REVIEWS


REVIEWS


Reviews in this issue:

Airaksinen, Timo.  The Philosophy of H.P. Lovecraft: The Route To Horror.  Series: New Studies in Aesthetics.  Vol. 29.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  264 pgs.  ISBN: 0-8204-4022-1

Reviewed by:
Terry Skeats
---

Cooperman, J. B. The Broom Closet: Secret Meanings of Domesticity in Postfeminist Novels by Louise Erdrich, Mary Gordon, Toni Morrison, Marge Piercy, Jane Smiley, and Amy Tan.  Series: Writing About Women: Feminist Literary Studies: Vo. 25.  New York:  Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  ISBN:  0-8204-3953-3

Reviewed by:
C. Camille Cooper
---

Danner, Dan.  Pilgrimage to Puritanism: History and Theology of the Marian Exiles at Geneva, 1555-1560. Series:  Studies in Church History: Vol. 9.  New York; Washington; Baltimore; Boston; Bern; Frankfurt am Main; Berlin; Vienna; Paris: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 1999.  168p.   ISBN: 0-8204-3884-7.

Reviewed by:
Joseph E. Straw
---

Esposito, V.M., ed.  Conscience & Community: The Legacy of Paul Ylvisaker.   Series: American University Studies XIV: Education: Vol. 43.  432 pgs.  NewYork: Peter Lang Publishing 1999.  ISBN:  0-8204-3845-6

Reviewed by:
Susan J. Cramer
---

Gaulin, Pam, ed. (2000).  Web Site Source Book  5th ed.  Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2000.  1975 pgs.  ISBN: 07808-0344-2.   

Reviewed by:
Michelle Mach  
---

Huang, Lucia.  American Young Adult Novels and their European Fairy-Tale Motifs.   Series: American University Studies XIV: Education: Vol. 44  New York: Peter Lang  Publishing, Inc., 1999.  122 pgs. ISBN:  0-8204-3978-9  

Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Malia, MA  

--------

Rydzeski, Justine. Radical Nostalgia in the Age of Piers Plowman: Economics, Apocalypticism, and Discontent.   Series: Studies in Humanities Literature--Politics—Society: Vol. 48. Ed. Guy Mermier.   New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999. 172 pgs. ISBN: 0-8204-4273-9.  

Reviewed by:
David J. Duncan  

---

Shannon, J. B.  Medical Tests Sourcebook  1st ed.  Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 1999.   691 pgs. ISBN: 0780802438.  

Reviewed by:
Susan Suess  

---

Teschke, John P. Hitler’s Legacy: West Germany Confronts the Aftermath of the Third Reich. Series:  Studies in Modern European History: Vol. 31.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  429 pgs.  ISBN 0-8204-4026-4  

Reviewed by:
Dawn Olmsted Swanson


Airaksinen, Timo.  The Philosophy of H.P. Lovecraft: The Route To Horror.  Series: New Studies in Aesthetics.  Vol. 29.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  264 pgs.  ISBN: 0-8204-4022-1

 Howard Phillips Lovecraft, considered by many critics to be America's foremost twentieth-century writer of supernatural horror fiction, and by almost as many to be an inept, amateurish, derivative hack, was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 20, 1890. Sickly as both a child and adolescent, he grew up in the relatively affluent surroundings of his grandfather's Victorian mansion, his father having died in 1898 after several years of institutionalization.

Able to attend school only sporadically because of his health, Lovecraft read voraciously in science, the history of early New England, the Arabian Nights, Edgar Allan Poe and the mythology of Greece and Rome, elements of which were to appear again and again in his writings. He left high school in 1908 without a diploma (again due to his health) and entered into a five-year period of seclusion during which he continued to read voraciously and to write verse in a style imitating that of the eighteenth century.

His literary career began in 1915 when he was drawn to amateur journalism; he published his own paper, The Conservative, from 1915 to 1919 and again in 1923, and was President of the United Amateur Press Association in 1917-1918 and again in 1923. W. Paul Cook, another amateur journalist, persuaded Lovecraft to begin writing seriously in 1917. As he wrote, his work increased in depth and maturity, so that by the time of his death from intestinal cancer and kidney inflammation on March 15, 1937, his stories exhibited a high level of literary skill and narrative power. Apart from a two-year stay in New York (1924-1926), corresponding to a disastrous marriage, he lived his entire life in Providence, though he travelled extensively to the eastern and southeastern United States and to Canada.

Lovecraft's work, though it enjoyed a certain level of recognition and acclaim during his life, did not receive full acknowledgement until much later; he dismissed himself as an "inconsequential scribbler", and a "self-confessed amateur and bungler." His best stories, however, thoroughly belie this self-inflicted view.

Central to many of Lovecraft's finest stories is the theme of ordinary individuals faced with nameless, unseen terror, and their attempts to cope with the truth, and the recognition that the human race is an insignificant element in a far vaster and more frightening universe than could possibly be conceived. Adaptations of his stories to film have never done them justice; he is far better read than watched.

Airaksinen's contribution to Lovecraft criticism focuses on "…how the aesthetic powers of literature are put to use in the exploration of the great metaphysical questions of life and text….[The] book is an extended exercise in the philosophical reading of literature and authorship." (p. viii)

Quite frankly, it is also a most frustrating and unsatisfying book. Airaksinen has a tendency to make odd claims about Lovecraft or his work, or about other writers, then fails to follow through with an analysis or explanation of what he means. Consider the following. On p.2, Airaksinen says: "We can…compare Lovecraft to J.R.R. Tolkien and his naïve stories of the ring cycle associated with the Lord of the Rings." On the following page, he continues: "H.P. Lovecraft was intellectually a self-made man, and that shows. He was a thinker who had all the spare time to work on his thoughts, an effort which produced a convoluted picture which is not easy to decipher. [Percy Bysshe] Shelley and [Bram] Stoker are more manageable. Tolkien is cute."

But Tolkien's ring cycle is far from naïve; rather, it has a structure and internal consistency of a high order. Nor is it understandable why Airaksinen's calls Tolkien "cute." Is this a reference to the Hobbits, or to the ring cycle itself?

The book is full of this kind of claim, and as a result, what could have been an interesting analysis really does not go very deep, or say very much. A better editor was needed here. There are errors of grammar, sentence structure and gratuitous spelling changes (de la Poer and de la Porte in the last paragraph on p.144 for example) throughout the book, and the logical structure of Airaksinen's arguments is often disjointed and difficult to follow. In the end, the book fails because the ideas it wishes to present are not communicated effectively, clearly or with a real understanding of either Lovecraft or his work.

Terry Skeats
Bishops University
tskeats@ubishops.ca

Top
-------- 

Cooperman, J. B. The Broom Closet: Secret Meanings of Domesticity in Postfeminist Novels by Louise Erdrich, Mary Gordon, Toni Morrison, Marge Piercy, Jane Smiley, and Amy Tan.  Series: Writing About Women: Feminist Literary Studies: Vo. 25.  New York:  Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  ISBN:  0-8204-3953-3

These days, the true scope of a book is revealed in its subtitle, and not, as one might assume, in what comes before that all-important colon.  Before I began reading Cooperman’s book, I was intrigued by the names--and the number--of the writers she proposed to discuss in her slim volume.  Such an undertaking is to be commended for its sheer ambitiousness.

In the first chapter, Cooperman clearly outlines her approach:  after an overview of the “history” of housework in the U.S., the tensions between domestic and literary life, and a summary of each writer’s life and the novels to be discussed, she proposes to answer the following questions:  “What role does domesticity play in the characters’ lives?  How does it move or reroute the plot?  What nuances, subtexts, values and attitudes does it reveal?  How--O great unfathomable question--has it shaped their consciousness” (16).

Unfortunately, depth has been greatly sacrificed for breadth.  What this means is that discussion of the various novels is uneven.  The space devoted to the discussion of the novels by Mary Gordon (The Other Side) and Marge Piercy (The Longings of Women), for instance, is not even half as much as is given to the discussion of Toni Morrison’s Beloved.  Cooperman’s work would have been stronger had she limited her discussion to the four novels she ends up quoting and paraphrasing from the most:  Beloved, Tracks (Louise Erdrich), The Kitchen God’s Wife (Amy Tan), and A Thousand Acres (Jane Smiley).

The book is not without compelling insights.  I had never considered, for example, that “housework is the first form of human work that most of us observe, and we see it every day from infancy” (11).  Cooperman has done an impressive amount of reading in history, psychology, and sociology texts to give her work the requisite scholarly underpinnings.  In many places, she incorporates this material well into her discussion of the novels.  But there are just as many places where she quotes from those secondary texts when lines from the primary texts--the novels--would have been more effective.

The book, treating as many subjects and authors as it does, also suffers greatly for the lack of an index, though that may be the publisher’s doing and not the author’s.

C. Camille Cooper
Clemson University
cooper2@clemson.edu

Top
--------   

Danner, Dan.  Pilgrimage to Puritanism: History and Theology of the Marian Exiles at Geneva, 1555-1560. Series:  Studies in Church History: Vol. 9.  New York; Washington; Baltimore; Boston; Bern; Frankfurt am Main; Berlin; Vienna; Paris: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 1999.  168p.   ISBN: 0-8204-3884-7.

For an American reader, the Puritan tradition is the most enduring legacy of the English Reformation. Edmund S. Morgan, and other historians, have shown that the 17th century settlement of Puritans on New England soil has left a lasting imprint on the religious character of Americans. The men and women who planted their Puritan roots in America had a past that was forged in the difficult religious trials of 16th century England. Aspects of these origins are addressed in Dan Danner’s book Pilgrimage to Puritanism: History and Theology of the Marian Exiles at Geneva, 1555-1560.

Danner sees the English Reformation entering a new phase with the experiences of those Protestants who fled England during the Catholic revival of Mary Tudor (1553-1558). These Protestants ended up in many of the urban centers of the Continental Reformation.  For Danner, the exiles that found themselves in John Calvin’s Geneva contributed most to what would be the Puritan movement. Under Calvin’s tutelage, these exiles returned home and became a radical thorn in the side of the eventual Elizabethan Settlement.

Danner provides a biographical register of the most important English Protestants that found refuge in Geneva beginning in 1555. The biographical sketches clearly tell who these people were and what they did when they returned to England.  Their experiences as exiles hardened their conviction that only the most sweeping reforms could save England from Catholicism and guide the direction of a future reformed church.

In reflecting on the theology of the Geneva exiles, Danner clearly allies them with a second generation of continental reformers. Moving away from earlier figures like Luther and Zwingli, the Geneva exiles looked to voices that were calling for a much harsher consolidation of the Protestant movement. The most obvious point of contact was the Genevan tradition of John Calvin and Theodore Beza.  They also drew inspiration and encouragement from the Swiss Covenant tradition of  Heinrich Bullinger and Johannes  Oecolampadius.  This theological soup would inform early Puritan views on the bible, predestination, salvation, good works, and church organization.

While John Calvin’s role as patron to the English exiles was undeniably important, he is somewhat of an absent father in the pages of Danner’s book. The role of Calvin in bringing the English refugee community to Geneva needs to be examined in more detail. The extent to which he informed debates on theological issues needs to be more carefully evaluated and assessed. Calvin’s Geneva itself needs to be brought more vividly back to life in order to understand the context in which the English exiles drew inspiration and thrived.

Pilgrimage to Puritanism is an important book that helps broaden our understanding of this important phase of the English Reformation. The biographical material is a logical starting place for anyone looking for information on early Puritans. Danner largely succeeds in showing that the early English Puritans were a complex and diverse group of people.  Clearly, this book would be a welcome addition to any research collection.  

Joseph E. Straw
University of Akron
jstraw@uakron.edu

Top
--------   

Esposito, V.M., ed.  Conscience & Community: The Legacy of Paul Ylvisaker.   Series: American University Studies XIV: Education: Vol. 43.  432 pgs.  NewYork: Peter Lang Publishing 1999.  ISBN:  0-8204-3845-6

Paul Ylvisaker was considered to be the “conscience of modern philanthropy”, having devoted a lifetime to public service and social activism.  His contributions  included teaching appointments at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Swarthmore; serving as chairman of the Task Force on the Cities under President Lyndon B. Johnson; Director of the Public Policy program at the Ford Foundation; and the first Commissioner of Community Affairs for the state of New Jersey.

This volume, edited by Virginia Esposito, President of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, is a collection of speeches, essays and other writings by Ylvisaker spanning a period of nearly 45 years (1948-1992), Ms. Esposito worked extensively with Mr. Ylvisaker on the Council on Foundations, and, after his death, was inundated with requests for copies of his works. This book is the result of her efforts to catalog and archive these works, and is organized into four main sections, along the following themes:

                Community: a Matter of Spirit
                Cities: Mirror to Man
                Education: A Generation Too Precious to Waste
                Philanthropy: The High Estate

Each section contains 7-10 of Ylvisaker’s speeches and writings on the topic, each of which is identified by title, date and occasion for which it was written.  A quote at the beginning of each writing focuses the reader on the general idea of the work. 

Esposito allows Ylvisaker to “speak for himself”, providing very few editorial markings other than the occasional footnote explaining the significance of an organization or person mentioned in the text.  She includes a brief biographical section on Ylvisaker at the beginning of the volume, following a Foreword by James. A. Joseph, United States Ambassador to South Africa, and former CEO of the Council on Foundations.  A combined Subject/Author index completes the work.

While this book provides a clear understanding of the works and ideas of Paul Ylvisaker in his own words, it is not suitable for casual reading.  Instead, it should be given a place among the best reference sources in the burgeoning field of philanthropic research and theory.

Susan J. Cramer
LEXIS-NEXIS
susan.cramer@lexis-nexis.com

Top
--------   

Gaulin, Pam, ed. (2000).  Web Site Source Book  5th ed.  Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2000.  1975 pgs.  ISBN: 07808-0344-2.   

The Web Site Source Book contains 59,300 individual listings for major U.S. businesses,  organizations, agencies and institutions, as well as selected Canadian organizations.  Each entry contains the company name, a Web site address (URL), a mailing address and a telephone number.  Entries may also contain a fax number, a toll-free number, an email address and/or a "W-mail" address, an email address for the company webmaster.

The directory includes two indexes, an alphabetical title index that is new to the fifth edition, and a classified subject index.  Moving quickly between the two indexes is apt to cause some confusion, as the subject index lists page numbers and classification numbers, while the title index lists classification numbers alone.

To add to the confusion, within each subject category entries are typically listed alphabetically by title, but not always.  Some entries are first grouped by state and then may be alphabetized by title or city.  Newspapers, for example, are grouped by state and then alphabetically by city name, making it easy to find a list of newspapers in a particular city.   Other location-specific categories such as Events and Hotels, Motels, Resorts lack this useful organization.  Overall, the title index is an excellent and much needed addition.  However, some of the entries lack precise editing.  For example, a long column of Courtyard by Marriott entries give a unique URL for each, without adding any distinguishing information in the title.  Presumably, each listing represents a different location of the hotel, but the burden is on the user to make that determination.

Several factors related to the organization make the Web Site Source Book especially disappointing to the user constructing a list of  contact information or Web sites by industry.  First, while entries may appear under multiple subject categories, the subject index lists only one category number.  Second, known competitors are sometimes listed in different categories.  For example, Hobby Lobby is listed as a toy store, while a primary competitor, Michael’s, is listed as a craft supply store.  In some cases, the category placement is clearly wrong, as with the listing of  Phi Beta Kappa under Fraternal and Social Organizations, rather than in Educational Associations and Organizations with other honor societies.  Third, the choice of entries is often puzzling with large gaps in completeness.  For example, a person relying completely on this directory might conclude (wrongly) that the only performing arts center in Colorado is located in Boulder and that only three internet service providers exist in Washington DC.  The latter is especially surprising given that the editors claim that “companies in high-interest fields such as computers or electronics may be included regardless of size or earnings.” (6)  This apparently haphazard selection of entries for inclusion is especially evident in the People section.  

Checking twenty random directory entries against the organization’s Web site found discrepancies in 18 cases.  In most cases, the discrepancies were either different email addresses or use of a street address instead of a P.O. box.  In eight of the entries, the directory contained information (typically a fax number or physical address) missing from the company Web site.  While Web designers are becoming more conscientious about including contact information on their Web site, a secondary source like the title index of the Web Site Source Book , an online phone directory or subject-specific databases may still be needed.

Although Web directories with reviewed sites or those on more narrowly defined subjects will always find a home, the continued need for a printed, all-encompassing source like the Web Site Source Book is debatable.  On the positive side, the directory contains some entries for fairly new ventures like the Pepsi Center in Denver (opened October 1999) and CosmoGIRL! magazine (first issue June 1999).  It also includes some value-added information like format of selected radio stations, political affiliation and state of politicians, and standard airport abbreviations.  However, despite these positive points, the directory is cumbersome and difficult to use, especially in view of the less costly alternatives.  URLs, particularly for U.S. businesses are generally more guessable -- www.company.com.  Free online services such as Hoovers and search engines with features like Company Factsheet on AltaVista provide users not only with standard directory information, but information on stocks, company history, competitors, company officers and more.  With online yellow pages and toll free directories, users can not only pull up the basic company address, phone number and Web site, but also maps and directions.  While the Web Site Source Book may be of some use to the person looking for a known quantity such as a particular company fax number, in general this book is of questionable value, given its format and content limitations.  

Michelle Mach  
Colorado State University  
mmach@manta.colostate.edu  

Top
--------  -

Huang, Lucia.  American Young Adult Novels and their European Fairy-Tale Motifs.   Series: American University Studies XIV: Education: Vol. 44  New York: Peter Lang  Publishing, Inc., 1999.  122 pgs. ISBN:  0-8204-3978-9  

Literary criticism, as Dr. Ted Whipple says in the Foreword, tends to be narrowly focused, often on one genre or author.  Dr. Huang discusses two seemingly disparate genres and their similarities to good effect while at the same time making a strong statement about the spread of literary motifs over the whole of a person's reading life.  As such, this work breaks new ground in literary research.  

Dr. Huang expands upon her 1994 dissertation to more fully explore and document her idea that fairy-tale motifs transfer from genre to genre, from childhood to teenage subject matter.  The format of the book is very similar to that of the dissertation, with the introduction describing each chapter to come.  Each chapter covers a theme and then by giving short sketches of the pertinent fairy-tale and modern novel illustrates the modern usage of the motif.  The number of novels has increased, although the motifs remain the same.   

The strengths of this book are based upon the author's evident vast knowledge of fairy-tales and the themes that echo through them.  Dr. Huang describes fundamental topics that have contributed to the intellectual and social development of children for centuries, and then finds contemporary evidence that these themes continue to teach older children and young adults, albeit in present times and with current societal norms.  At the end of the conclusion, she extends this observation further along a person's growth by applying the fairy-tale motifs to television shows and feature films, whose audience includes most adults.  In fact, this brief glimpse could have been a larger part of the current work and would have amplified the value of the research.  

On page 6, a chart is provided that graphically shows how many motifs are discernible in the young adult novels chosen.  This chart is very useful, as the chapters become somewhat repetitive.  In each chapter's discussion of a motif, a short reprise of the original fairy tale is repeated.  For example, Dr. Huang finds that the motif of abandoned children is present in four of the novels, and that all the novels reflect more than one motif.  Dr. Huang then feels compelled to tell you each story again to make her point.   

There are two minor weak points in Dr. Huang's book.  The first is the many, many grammatical errors found throughout the book.  It is clear that while all the words are spelled properly, often the wrong tense of the verb is chosen and sometimes left out altogether.  A more careful proof reading would have been appreciated.  The second weak point is the conclusion, which is in large part a reverse repetition of the contents of each chapter found in the introduction.  The overall work would have benefited from a clearer statement of the general theme that while age causes individual's needs to change, basic themes of life could be applied through literature regardless of age.   

Overall, Dr. Huang has provided a unique and provocative look at themes that impact our lives and are best explicated in literature in two seemingly dissimilar genres.  She leaves the door open for further expansion and further study that is intriguing in its potential, while at the same time providing solid research on her topic.  

Elizabeth Malia, MA  
Eastern Washington University  
emalia@ewu.edu  

Top
--------   

Rydzeski, Justine. Radical Nostalgia in the Age of Piers Plowman: Economics, Apocalypticism, and Discontent.   Series: Studies in Humanities Literature--Politics—Society: Vol. 48. Ed. Guy Mermier.   New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999. 172 pgs. ISBN: 0-8204-4273-9.  

Throughout the high Middle Ages, England had moved away from the older agrarian society towards a newer commercial model. As with any transition, both systems had their supporters. In this case, the peasants wanted the older traditional land-based system whereas the merchants, the Church and the monarchy looked towards a money-based economy. The calamities of the fourteenth century inspired a new wave of reformist writings against the newer system. In her work, Radical Nostalgia in the Age of Piers Plowman: Economics, Apocalypticism and Discontent, Justine Rydzeski examines this conflict of ideas within fourteenth century English society through the lens of William Langland's The Vision of Piers Plowman. This discussion involves five factors: the history of apocalyptic writings, changing ideas of salvation and the conflicting roles of clergy in English society, the relationship between economic and religious thought within Medieval thought, the changing economic trends within English society, Langland's effect on subsequent social reform and his legacy. Through this approach, Rydzeski constructs a model to examine this complicated social transition.  

Chapter 1, "Piers Plowman and the History of Apocalypticism" discusses this facet of Langland's text and places it within the framework of medieval historiography. The discussion identifies the two ecclesiastical views of history: eschatological and regenerative. Then, this chapter looks at several ideological balances within Christian historical thought including pagan vs. Christian, rural vs. urban and the differences between the visions contained in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The dream vision's influence, most notably in relation to the Pearl, also enters the discussion. Rydzeski also stresses the important influence of St. Augustine's City of God on fourteenth century philosophical writings. These factors culminate in Langland's desire to have English society return to its roots so that it can move towards a proper future. As the author suggests, the relationships between labor and reward in addition to works and salvation were key components to a person's understanding of English socialand its workings.  

Chapter 2, "Economics and Sin", examines Langland's views of those changing relationships within medieval English society. The chapter's emphasizes the maxim: "pay what you owe" and the nature of that payment. It is suggested that Langland attempted to fit his contemporaries into a traditional tripartite model based on the traditional agrarian society. Rydzeski notes the clergy's conflict between working as the noble landlords' tax collectors and protecting the peasants' interests. Furthermore, the author discusses the marketplace's growing economic influence on the clergy as pertaining to achieving salvation. As the author notes, Langland opposed the transitory nature of the money economy. The permanent relationships from the agrarian social model were no longer valued as highly. Accordingly, indulgences subvert the traditional relationship in which one earns salvation throughout life. Langland's wish for the return of a just earthly or heavenly king culminates this important discussion.  

Chapter 3, "Demographics and Discontent" examines the problems imbedded within the transitory society. Rydzeski notes that medieval economic historians hold differing perceptions of this society's fortunes depending upon their targeted piece of English society. On the other hand, she focuses on the society as a whole. The discussion focuses on the problems facing this society: famine, plague, an unstable monetary supply, movement within social classes and Parliament's attempts to control that phenomenon.  

Chapter 4, "Fellowship and Apocalypticism", revisits the competing ideas of religion and "proto-capitalism". Rydzeski examines Langland's preference for the older Christian basis of statecraft in which relationships, not money, dictated events. She also focuses on proper relations between the three estates and how reason should prevail in the relations between them.  

Chapter 5, "Reading and Rebellion", links the subsequent revolt of 1381 to Piers Plowman. As Rydzeski states, it was impossible for anyone to understand the rebels' demands without understanding the text's purpose. The rebels reduced society down to good (the "true" Church) and evil (the "Anti-Christ") as noted in Langland's text. Rydzeski observes this phenomenon in this group's demands particularly in John Ball's letters. The author's historiography in this section is also very insightful.  

The "Conclusion" looks at how Langland's successors interpreted his apocalyptic message. Rydzeski links Pierce the Ploughman's Crede to the Uprising of 1381 directly and focuses on its Wycliffite undercurrents. Mum and Soothsegger, another successor text, receives attention for its messages to Henry IV and the new Lancastrian regime following the political upheaval of 1399. Through such texts, the nostalgia contained within Piers Plowman continued to be a factor in later social contexts.  

Rydzeski's work makes important points. She tracks the development of apocalyptic historical tradition, the economic transitions within medieval English society, the crises of the fourteenth century and the social upheavals from these other factors. The historiography is very well done. However, this text needs further development. In reading this work, the reader is left asking himself or herself about certain issues affecting fourteenth century English society such as the Hundred Years War. In regards to her examples, the author could expand her discussion of their respective social contexts particularly those illustrations relating to the monarchy, Parliament and the transition between oral and written forms of record keeping. A separate conclusion apart from her discussion of Langland's legacy would provide Rydzeski the opportunity to sum up her whole argument rather than just end her book at that point.  

Aside from these issues, I would recommend Radical Nostalgia in the Age of Piers Plowman: Economics, Apocalypticism and Discontent for any academic or research library collection pertaining to social and economic history, religious thought and medieval literature. This work's thesis and arguments concerning economic and social relationships insure its place with other studies pertaining to this topic.  

David J. Duncan  
Reference Librarian, Humanities  
Wichita State University  
duncan@twsuvm.uc.twsu.edu  

Top
--------   

Shannon, J. B.  Medical Tests Sourcebook  1st ed.  Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 1999.   691 pgs. ISBN: 0780802438.  

Part of the Health Reference Series that provides basic information on a broad range of medical topics, Medical Tests Sourcebook is a compilation of government, organization and journal sources arranged into thirteen parts and 77 chapters. Parts focus on broad subject areas (Part I: Periodic Health Exams and General Screening Tests or Part IV: X-Ray and Radiology Tests) while the short, informative chapters are devoted to single topics (Chapter 7-Geriatric Health Screening or Chapter 30-Ultrasound) within the subject area of the Parts.  

The focus of this book is to aid health care consumers in making informed choices about medical tests. Specific tests are described in language a layperson can understand. Information on the specific procedure, benefits, limitations, and possible risks or side effects are given. Illustrations are good but minimal, used only as needed to clarify information and/or procedures.  

While much of the information presented in this book is available from the original sources, this should not detract for the usefulness as a resource not only for the targeted audience, the health care consumer, but also for librarians, and health professionals involved in patient education. Health care consumers are unlikely to have access many of these publications.  

As a result of HMO's and changes in health insurance in general, consumers are becoming more informed about their health and health care. These proactive consumers want to have more control over their health and health-related decision making. Part II: Screening Tests You Can Do at Home and it's 7 chapters are a very beneficial read. The introductory chapter includes the pros and cons of over-the-counter (OTC) tests as well as tips on buying and using purchased tests. The usefulness of OTC tests is shown through better control (diabetes), earlier prenatal care (pregnancy) and reduction in the number of office or lab visits resulting in a reduction of medical costs (high blood pressure). The remaining chapters discuss specific tests for fecal occult blood, diabetes, HIV, urine and hair analysis, pregnancy, and cholesterol.  

Especially useful are Part Twelve: Payment of Medical Tests and Part Thirteen: Additional Help and Information. Part Twelve includes sections on Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and the Hill-Burton Free Care Program. Part Thirteen contains a Glossary of Important Terms, Computer Diagnosis and Telemedicine, and Resources for Additional Help. Rounding out the book is a comprehensive index.  

While geared towards the layperson, this book is also appropriate for public, academic and medical/health sciences libraries.  

Susan Suess  
Health Sciences Librarian  
Southeastern Louisiana University  
ssuess@selu.edu  

Top
--------   

Teschke, John P. Hitler’s Legacy: West Germany Confronts the Aftermath of the Third Reich. Series:  Studies in Modern European History: Vol. 31.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  429 pgs.  ISBN 0-8204-4026-4

The purpose of this book is to examine the major legal and propaganda controversies that developed as Nazi influence reemerged in West Germany after the war.  The author begins by discussing denazification initiatives.  Then the formation of West Germany’s legal system and the constitutional structure of the Federal Republic.  Next, the Federal Republic’s efforts to try Nazi offenders.  Finally, looking at a couple of successful controversies initiated by opponents of renazification. (Introduction)

This book shows how West Germany coped after the war. Describing the history of individuals who were well-known in the Nazi’s military, and what became of them.  It also expounds upon why the legal system did not treat these people equally.  Mr. Teschke describes how the United States and the Soviet Union stated that they would not allow known Nazi’s to hold positions of importance in the legal system; and yet how they managed to do so anyway.  Explanations are provided as to how and why organizations were created to handle the placement of Nazi’s in the workforce after the war.

One chapter is devoted to the Allied trials of Nazi offenders.  The United States and Britain each  played important roles in the trials.  The successes and failures of these trials are discussed.  A large portion of the book is devoted to discussing West Germany’s trials of Nazi offenders immediately following the war and since the 1950's.

The book concludes by stating that when the war was over, the survivors of the Nazi regime were focused on mere survival.   Nazi officials had plenty of excuses for their actions.  Blame was placed upon high ranking officials who had been killed or committed suicide.  (p. 373).  The legal system was at the core of the restoration; however, it failed to adequately punish those who had committed the crimes of the Nazi regime.  The Western Allies did too little, except at the outset, to resist the failed results. (p. 375).  “Practically all of surviving officials of the regime either returned to jobs in the postwar German administration or were generously compensated by its pension system.” (p. 378).

Extensive notes conclude each chapter.  For example, the first chapter is 32 pages long and has 94 works cited.  Each chapter is divided into sections; however, there is no segue from one section to the next.  Many of the sections are very technical and not easily read.

Abbreviations are explained and a biographical index for each entry is also included.  Unfortunately,  it does not state the criteria used to choose entries or the reasons why they were chosen.  Adolf Hitler’s name is noticeably missing from this section.  The book concludes with a bibliography and index.

This book is invaluable as a research tool.   I would recommend this for academic libraries supporting courses in Germany and/or World War II.

Dawn Olmsted Swanson
Kettering University
dswanson@kettering.edu


Return to Contents Page
Return to Libres Home Page


This page is maintained by Derek Silvester, School of Media and Information, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia.
Please sent comments and suggestions to Derek@biblio.curtin.edu.au

CRICOS provider code: 00301J