Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Crimes of the Centuries: Notorious Crimes, Criminals, and Criminal Trials in American History

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Crimes of the Centuries: Notorious Crimes, Criminals, and Criminal Trials in American History

Article excerpt

Crimes of the Centuries: Notorious Crimes, Criminals, and Criminal Trials in American History. Edited by Steven Chermak and Frankie Y. Bailey. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016. 3 vols. Acid free $310.00 (ISBN 978-161069-593-0). E-book available (9781-61069-594-7), call for pricing.

This three-volume set's biggest strength is its unique focus. While many encyclopedias of crime exist, focusing on types of criminals, locations of crimes, and types of punishments, I have yet to experience a set that focuses on the notoriety of the crimes it discusses. The introduction details the philosophy employed by the editors in choosing the content for this set, noting that they sought crimes that are notorious in the sense of uniqueness, newsworthiness, and timeliness to other political, social, or cultural happenings. A quick search of Amazon confirmed my suspicion that scholarly reference work on these types of crimes has been a niche in the literature that has remained, until recently, largely unfilled.

The set is structured in such a way that it proves quick and easy to utilize. It includes a chronology spanning from 1692 to 2015 that also includes important political, cultural, and social events to help students situate crimes within their historical context. A useful feature, particularly for students unaccustomed to using multivolume reference works, is a full table of contents included in every volume. Another feature that will prove useful for students just beginning research is the "Guide to Related Topics. …

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