Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Culture Wars in America: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints and Voices

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Culture Wars in America: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints and Voices

Article excerpt

Culture Wars in America: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints and Voices. 2nd ed. Ed. by Roger Chapman and James Ciment. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2013. 3 vols. alkaline $349 (ISBN: 978-0-7656-8302-1). E-book available, call for pricing.

Culture Wars in America is a three-volume reference set with a stellar list of contributors from well-known universities. This is the second edition, updated for the Obama years. Broadly speaking, the overall content surrounds politics, education, law, various issues in popular culture, current and historical ideologies and movements, the media, and social and moral issues.

There has always been an attempt to define the social and political issues of American society. These books attempt to define these "culture wars" without "a labeling and classification of issues that suggests a moralistic either/or sensibility. Presenting players as pairs of polar opposites oversimplifies issues and fails to acknowledge their nuances and complexities" (xxvii).

The title and introduction are needlessly esoteric. The editors should have been more specific about the book's intended purpose in the introduction. The meaning of "Culture Wars in America" may not be apparent to the average high school or early undergraduate student. …

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