Pop Culture in Europe. By Juliana Tzvetkova. Entertainment and Society around the World. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 414 p. Acid-free $97 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4465-2). E-book available (978-1-4408-4466-9), call for pricing.

What is the history behind the Dr. Who series? Which bands dominated the Britpop sound in the 1990s? Which fashion icons represent uniquely European pop culture in the twentieth century? Pop Culture in Europe, from ABC-CLIO’s Entertainment and Society around the World series, provides reliable content to patrons researching popular trends and entertainments across the pond. The title efficiently introduces residents of the United States to the stars and amusements primarily associated with Western Europe.

Reference works on popular culture can become quickly dated, yet this title successfully captures a sense of the cultural norms and entertainment of a time and place and documents the ephemeral and unpredictable preferences of the masses. Introductory essays to the volume and each chapter offer valuable commentary on the sweeping changes to localized culture while placing them in a broader regional or global context; individual entries supply more detailed information. The Eurovision Song Contest, for example, is referenced in the opening essay and further discussed as an entry in “Television and Radio.” Shows that have gained a more global following are also represented; for example, The Great British Bake Off is included in a broader entry on Lifestyle Reality Formats. Black and white photographs are included sparingly to add visual references, and call-out boxes are occasionally used to briefly highlight individuals or phenomena. The appendix items are random yet specific (“Top 10 Swedish Dating Sites”) and do not seem to represent much original work of the editor or the five contributors.

Compared to other works, including Gary Hoppenstand’s Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Popular Culture, volume 3, Europe (Greenwood, 2007), the demarcation of what is considered European is more rigid according to the preface, although individual chapters may be more flexible. Perhaps the most compelling definition is in the introduction to the “Film” chapter, which references cultural rather than geographic boundaries. The ABC-CLIO series both overlaps with and contains unique content in comparison to the Greenwood set, making the two complementary in many ways. For example, Pop Culture in Europe devotes chapters to “Internet and Social Media” and “Video Games,” while the Greenwood title does not dwell on social media and contains minimal video games references; however, both contain extensive treatments of sports, literature, and film, among other topics. The suggested further readings provide a more reliable source than wikis and will be appreciated by researchers seeking additional information, yet Greenwood’s series contains a richer set of resources for each chapter.

This title would be a solid addition to college libraries, especially those with an emphasis on liberal arts or culture studies, and would also be of value to public libraries and middle and high school libraries.—Amy F. Fyn, Coordinator of Library Instruction, Kimbel Library, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina


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