When Science and Politics Collide: The Public Interest at Risk. By Robert O. Schneider. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2018. 228 p. Acid-free $60 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5937-3). E-book Available (978-1-4408-5938-0), call for pricing.

The importance and topicality of When Science and Politics Collide: The Public Interest at Risk can hardly be doubted. Author Robert O. Schneider, of the University of North Carolina Pembroke, has a respectable publication history on issues that demonstrate the collision of science and politics: fracking, oil disaster prevention, and emergency management, among others. He provides cogent discussions in areas where clarity and understanding are essential, such as the distinction between science and politics and how they interact in the development of policy.

Like many books lacking the characteristics of a reference work described in Bates’s Information Searching Theory and Practice (Ketchikan Press, 2016, 325–327), this work could be used for reference. However, the structure and features of this work are not strong for that use. It is a better fit for Bates’s “body of discourse” (322) with the entire book, rather than an entry, being the information “individual.” As a result of this format, the scope is relatively narrow, but it has depth greater than much reference material. Indexing assists reference use where a discernible organizational ordering principle is absent, but it is not especially strong here. A full chapter is devoted to hydraulic fracturing, but terms like “natural gas” are completely absent from the index, for example. In addition, the entries under “hydraulic fracturing” differ from those under “fracking.” Generous notes are provided, though they are located at the back of the book instead of the end of each chapter, which might facilitate reference use. The author cites a wide variety of types of sources, which could be perceived as a strength or weakness.

For an actual reference work in this area, Steel’s Science and Politics: An A-Z Guide to Issues and Controversies (CQ Press, 2014) may be better suited to the task. Alphabetically arranged brief entries, each with a named author, bibliography, and further reading, cover a greater number and range of topics. From the publisher, Science and Politics is substantially more expensive than When Science and Politics Collide, but if alternate vendors are an option, the price may be comparable. The review Steel’s work received in Choice (May 2015, 1481) was “optional,” it should be noted, and it could benefit from an update.

The strengths above and a generally interesting and accessible style make When Science and Politics Collide worthy of consideration for undergraduate general collections. Barrotta and Scarafile’s Science and Democracy: Controversies and Conflicts (John Benjamins, 2018) and When Ideology Trumps Science by Wolters and Steel (Praeger, 2018) are examples of current publications of similar structure and subject as Schneider’s that might be considered as alternatives.—Lisa Euster, Librarian, Washington State Department of Ecology, Lacey, Washington


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