Reference Review – Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants

Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants: From Acacia to Zinnia
Cumo, Christopher. ABC-CLIO, 2013
3v, 1236p  9781598847741 $248.45  9781598847758 $234.55

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants: From Acacia to Zinnia is a three-volume reference guide which provides and interdisciplinary overview of 282 plant cultivars, describing each plant in both horticultural terms as well as in the context of its relationship to humans.  It is an excellent initial reference source for students of botany, agronomy, plant pathology, plant breeding, genetics, taxonomy, entomology, chemistry, soil science, history, folklore, religion, anthropology, and geography.

As indicated in its name, this encyclopedia is organized in alphabetical order by the commonly used names of plants and, furnishes the names of the plant family, genus, and species. The most notable features of the encyclopedia are its chronological and geographic scope. It spans more than 1 million years of known historical history and to touches upon every locale where humans have cultivated plants.

The encyclopedia begins with an alphabetically ordered list of entries.  The next section provides related topics and groups the plants by the genus (i.e., Alliums: onions, garlic, leeks) or use (i.e., Beverages: agave, barley, coffee, grapes, hops).  The preface provides a background and description of the work.

The encyclopedia includes an introduction to the topic of cultivated plants, providing background and a historical overview of plants and human civilization, including their economic, nutritional, social, cosmetic, and religious uses.

The end of the third volume provides a selected bibliography of recommended print resources and a list of organizations and their Web sites. Many of these groups, botanical gardens, and agencies provide additional authoritative information about cultivated plants in their online offerings. The encyclopedia concludes with a comprehensive index.

.Summing Up:

Highly Recommended for anyone with a casual interest in plants or as a precursor to more serious academic study. Comprising three volumes and approximately half a million words, this work is likely the most comprehensive reference of its kind, providing detailed information not only about specific plants and food crops such as barley, corn, potato, rice, and wheat, but also interdisciplinary content that draws on the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Encylcopedia of Consumer Culture
Southerton, Dale. SAGE Reference, 2011
3v 1596p 9780872896017 $725.00

The Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture is the first reference work to outline the parameters of consumer culture and provide a critical, scholarly resource on consumption and consumerism. The topics covered include socio-economic change, media, civil society, technology, production, welfare, urban life, and much more.

The encyclopedia is designed to aid students and researchers sort through the existing literature, over-lapping theories and concepts of consumerism and, to gain a clear and thorough understanding of consumer culture and its components.

A Reader’s Guide is provided to assist readers in locating articles on related topics. It classifies articles into nine general topical categories: Everyday Life; Geographies and Histories of Consumer Culture; Methods and Trends; Persons; Politics and Consumption; Production, Exchange, and Distribution; Social Divisions and Social Groups; Technology and Media; Theoretical Perspectives and Concepts

Entries are organized alphabetically and written in clear, nontechnical, style to ensure accessibility and that the key ideas, arguments, perspectives, ways of researching consumption, and the empirical studies understandable.

To help the reader browse the encyclopedia, a Reader’s Guide is provided that organizes the content into nine thematic categories

Each entry contains a list of further readings and a set of cross-references to other entries within the encyclopedia and, a full index to the volumes is provided so that readers can identify particular issues and explore how they connect and contrast across the different entries.

Summing Up:

Recommended.  The Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture provides a critical, scholarly resource on consumption and consumerism over time.