Etiquette and Taboos Around the World. Edited by Ken Taylor and Victoria Williams. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2017. 373 p. Acid-free $100 (ISBN 978-1-4408-3820-0). E-book Available (978-1-4408-3821-7), call for pricing.

“Etiquette is a code of behavior that defines expected, conventional social behavior according to contemporary norms within certain cultures, classes, and groups of people” (xi). This sentence describes the content of this one volume reference book, covering countries in North, Central, and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Oceania on this topic. The information presented in this book is appropriate for the research needs of high school and early college students. There are no other similar books available, so this fills a gap in the literature.

The Introduction at the beginning of the book offers a necessary detailed survey of the history of etiquette and taboos which helps create relevance for this information. This history becomes confusing toward the end when Dr. Williams unnecessarily discusses modern etiquette through the lens of political correctness and social media, which is a topic which belongs in another book. The true strength of this book is the detailed, credible information, written by well qualified contributors about the nuances of social etiquette and taboos within each country. This book extends beyond what would be found in an internet search.

The alphabetical entries appropriately range between six and ten paragraphs. Each entry has a “Further Reading” list. The entries describe the country itself and the characterizing etiquette and taboos which include but are not limited to clothing, dating, table manners, handshakes and other greetings, food, hospitality, religion, marriage, birth, and death customs. There is a “Culture Shock!” text box with a small globe icon connected to some entries. The “Culture Shock!” information is a helpful paragraph on a little-known aspect of the country’s culture. The title, “Culture Shock!” with the small globe icon seems unnecessarily contrived and should have been more simply stated. There is a selected Bibliography in the back of the book. The index has a listing of the more specific elements of the country’s etiquette and taboos under the name heading, which will be of great help to students.

A niche subject area like this will be the future of successful print reference books. The one volume format makes the book accessible for student checkout. This is an excellent topic for a print book format because etiquette and taboos changes slowly and less dramatically than other topics such as politics. This means greater longevity on the library shelf.—Terry Darr, Library Director, Loyola Blakefield, Towson, Maryland


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