Encyclopedia of American Civil Rights and Liberties: Revised and Expanded Edition, 2nd ed. Edited by Kara E. Stooksbury, John M. Scheb II, and Otis H. Stephens, Jr. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 4 vols. Acid-free $348 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4109-5). E-book available (978-1-4408-4110-1), call for pricing.

Occupy Wall Street. Black Lives Matter. The #MeToo movement. Over the past decade, the United States has seen a surge in activism around civil rights, broadly defined as the right to be free from discrimination and unequal treatment in arenas such as housing, the workplace, and the criminal justice system. At times, as when activists are arrested at a protest, calls for civil rights can also be the occasion for violations of civil liberties—certain basic freedoms (e.g., freedom of speech) that are either enshrined in the Constitution or established through legal rulings. While civil rights are distinct from civil liberties, students often struggle to articulate these differences and appreciate the links between the two concepts. Complicating this distinction is the fact that historically reference materials have tended to cover either one or the other but not the two in combination. Combining these two concepts in one work is what makes a revised edition of the Encyclopedia of American Civil Rights and Liberties so timely and valuable.

For the expanded edition of a work originally published in 2006, editors Kara E. Stooksbury, John M. Scheb II, and Otis H. Stephens, Jr. collected 75 new entries dealing with such evolving topics as gay marriage and government surveillance. Brimming with fresh material, this four-volume set now stretches to nearly 700 entries. Contributions vary in length from less than a page to six or seven pages; they introduce readers to key constitutional provisions and US Supreme Court decisions, social movements and advocacy organizations, historical figures, and relevant legal doctrines.

Entries on controversial issues will be particularly helpful to students; for example, there are at least four separate articles looking at different facets of the death penalty. Cross-referenced entries aid students in exploring the encyclopedia while “Further Reading” sections highlight additional paths to explore beyond the text.

The fourth volume of this encyclopedia contains forty primary documents that, as the editors explain in their preface, “have figured prominently in the development of civil rights and liberties in the Anglo-American legal and political traditions” (xxxii).

There are no comparable works on the market covering both civil liberties and civil rights. The editors intended for this to be a comprehensive work, but certain topics remain conspicuous by their absence. Notably missing are any entries on the Red Scare, or on the proliferation in recent years of so-called “ag gag” laws that make it illegal to photograph abuse of animals in factory farms. Nor is there an entry on International Workers of the World—even though the Wobblies led a now-famous campaign for free speech rights at the beginning of the twentieth century. While the relevance of this title is indisputable, quickly evolving topics inevitably make for quickly out-of-date reference material. This item is recommended for high school and college libraries.—Seth Kershner, Public Services Librarian, Northwestern Connecticut Community College, Winsted, Connecticut


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