Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West

Article excerpt

Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West. Ed. by Steven L. Danver. Los Angeles: CQ, 2013. 2 vols. $325 (ISBN: 978-1-60871-909-9).

This two-volume work is broad in scope with a few identified boundaries, namely geography, discipline, and chronology. Danver explains, "the principle focus of this work is the twentieth-century transformation of Western politics and how that transformation has led to the emerging political patterns of the twenty-first century" (xxiii). Coverage of the American West extends from the Great Plains to the Trans-Pacific West (Alaska, California, and Hawaii).

The encyclopedia is divided into three sections: "Western Political Themes," "Western Regions and States," and "A-Z Entries." There is also an appendix that includes forty-eight primary documents. Efforts were made to enhance usability, as each volume includes an index, entry listing, and reader's guide with categorized entries. The content is readily accessible and clearly written for a general readership. The entries do include useful updates to existing resources, with examples including the Occupy Movement, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party Movement. However, several entries are overly general and not fully fleshed out--an example being a seven paragraph entry on education that begins with the founding fathers and closes with the late twentieth century.

It is worth noting the four identified political themes as they set the stage for comparison. Themes include levels of government, immigration and migration, natural resources and the environment, and rural West and urbanization. This work inhabits a complicated space as it is interdisciplinary and much of the content can be found in reference works from disciplines such as environmental studies, Native American studies, Latin American studies, and US history. …

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