Antarctica and the Arctic Circle: A Geographic Encyclopedia of the Earth's Polar Regions

By Euster, Lisa | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Summer 2015 | Go to article overview

Antarctica and the Arctic Circle: A Geographic Encyclopedia of the Earth's Polar Regions


Euster, Lisa, Reference & User Services Quarterly


Antarctica and the Arctic Circle: A Geographic Encyclopedia of the Earth's Polar Regions. Edited by Andres J. Hund. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. 2 vols. Acid free $189 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-392-9). Ebook available (978-1-61069-393-6), call for pricing.

Although calling itself a geographic encyclopedia, the scope of this two-volume set is broader than such a designation suggests. Hund has attempted to encompass a large range of information about a vast area, perhaps a bit much for a modest two-volume set. Attempting to address in a meaningful way topics in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and applied sciences for both poles in approximately 350 entries and fewer than 800 pages is ambitious. His stated "central feature ... the original inhabitants of the Arctic region" (xi) would, alone, merit a work of this size. John Stewart's larger, two-volume Antarctica: An Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. (McFarland, 2011) is more limited in both geographical and topical scope.

A significant strength of this set is as a starting place for research. The entries are significantly more in depth than those in Stewart's work or in David McDougal and Lynn Woodworth's single-volume The Complete Encyclopedia: Antarctica and the Arctic (Firefly, 2001). The entries most often present a cohesive and reasonably in-depth discussion of a topic, essentially reading much like journal articles, with less direct citation and a less complete list of references. Beyond this, most entries are followed immediately by a further-reading section composed largely of scholarly articles and books, government and nongovernmental organization documents, and other authoritative sources. This differs from the placement of references at the end of the two volumes, as in Stewart's set, and the seeming entire omission of citations, as in David McDougal and Lynn Woodworth's work. The latter seems almost impossible without violating intellectual integrity and undermines the substantial value of encyclopedic works as sources of research leads and direction. …

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