American Political Culture: An Encyclopedia. Edited by Michael Shally-Jensen. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015. 3 vols. Acid free $310 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-377-6) E-book available (9781-616069-378-3), call for pricing.

Anyone seeking reliable information on American political life since the 1970s will be pleased with Michael Shally-Jensen’s work, American Political Culture. This three-volume set covers topics from abortion to Israel Zangwill, the nineteenth-century author who coined the phrase “melting pot” and who appears in the entry for “Cultural Pluralism.” The signed entries by noted scholars run to several pages and include bibliographic information. The format is easy to access and many entries include illustrations. The topics cover well-known areas, as well as some unexpected ones. The entry for “Public Health and Politics” includes a photo of former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, holding a large Kentucky Fried Chicken cup as he speaks to the media on the health issues associated with sugary soft drinks. As with other articles, the “Public Health and Politics” submission includes historical information on the topic, covering issues from “What Is (Not) Public Health?” to “The Tuskegee Experiment and Its Legacies” and on to “The Bloomberg Vision and Its Opponents.” The recent publication date makes possible the inclusion of very recent issues, such as Ebola and the response of the Surgeon General to the arrival of infected patients to American shores. Entries also include a “See also” section, guiding the reader to other topics relevant to that which is currently being read.

The Shally-Jensen encyclopedia is a fine companion to Andrew W. Robertson’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History (CQ Press, 2009). Robertson’s seven-volume set extends from “Colonial Beginnings Through Revolution, 1550 to 1783,” ending with “The Clash of Conservatism and Liberalism, 1976 to the Present.” This final volume covers similar material to Shally-Jensen’s work, but covers fewer topics, no doubt due to limited space. As with American Political Culture¸ historical information is provided and the signed entries also include a bibliography and “Related Entries.”

Other recent titles on this subject include Bruce Kuklick’s A Political History of the USA (Palgrave McMillan, 2009); Russell Muirhead’s The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age (Harvard University, 2014); American Democracy: From Tocqueville to Town Halls to Twitter by Andrew J. Perrin (Polity, 2014) and the slim volume, American Political History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2015) by Donald Critchlow. These titles, however, are more suited to the stacks than the Reference shelves.

American Political Culture is recommended and would be at home in a variety of settings, ranging from the high school media center to public and academic libraries and is useful for anyone seeking accurate, unbiased information on the current political climate in the United States.—Carla Wilson Buss, Curriculum Materials and Education Librarian, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia


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