Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Encyclopedia of South Africa

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Encyclopedia of South Africa

Article excerpt

Encyclopedia of South Africa. Ed. by Krista Johnson and Sean Jacobs. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2011. 373 pages. alkaline $95 (ISBN: 978-1-58826-749-8).

Although other encyclopedias, such as John Middleton's Encyclopedia of Africa South of the Sahara (Scribner's Sons, 1997) and Kwame Appiah and Henry Louis Gates' Encyclopedia of Africa (Oxford, 2010), include detailed entries about South Africa, the Encyclopedia of South Africa is the first English-language reference work to focus exclusively and comprehensively on the country of South Africa. Edited by Krista Johnson (Howard University) and Sean Jacobs (The New School), the Encyclopedia of South Africa is an authoritative and accessible introduction to the complex history, politics, and culture of the country.

The Encyclopedia of South Africa is organized alphabetically by entry and covers topics ranging from the geographical to the sociological; examples include thematic entries such as "Political Cultures and Ideologies," "Land Tenure and Dispossession," and "Theater and Performance," as well as briefer entries providing information about topics such as cultural figures, languages, indigenous groups, or cities. Entries are well written and provide thorough explanation without overwhelming the reader, and many end with a bibliography of further reading. The content and tone of the writing presents a thoughtful, balanced, and informative look at issues and is particularly welcome in complex entries such as "AIDS" and "Gold & Diamond Mining. …

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