Research Tools - Fall 2001

New Reference Books

American Sportswriters and Writers on Sport, Volume 241 of the Dictionary of Literary Biography, ed. by Richard Orodenker, Detroit: Gale Group, 2001 [REF PN 451 .D5 V. 241].
 
The latest volume of the Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) will be of interest to students of sportswriting and those interested in the study of Americana. Forty different American sportswriters are covered, including Bob Considine, who collaborated with Babe Ruth on his autobiography, and George Plimpton, still writing today.
 
But even if this topic doesn't interest you, other volumes of the DLB may. The 241 volumes of this literary encyclopedia detail the literary history of various time periods, geographical areas, or genres. Initially dedicated to North American literature, the set has expanded to encompass writers from all English speaking countries, as well those from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. Each volume has detailed chapters on the selected writers, providing biographical information, synopses of some of their works, literary criticism, bibliographical information about their works, and references for further reading.
 
Keep the DLB in mind when looking for biographical and bibliographical information on a particular author. To find your author, look in the Contemporary Authors Cumulative Index [REF PN 451 .C59 Index], kept at the Reference Desk. This volume indexes several sets published by Gale, including the DLB.
 
Do' ;s and Taboos Around the World 3rd ed. Edited by Roger E. Axtell, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993 [REF HF 5387 .D66 1993].
 
This is the third edition of a very popular book, originally written for business people traveling to other countries. Chapters cover "Protocol, Customs, and Etiquette," "Hand Gestures and Body Language," "Gift Giving and Receiving," and "American Jargon and Baffling Idioms." A special section, "A Quick Guide to the Ways of the World," provides a brief overview by continent and by country of general protocol and customs concerning names and greetings, hospitality or gift giving, dress, and conversation (including subjects to be avoided). Another chapter, titled "Tips for Incoming Visitors to the U. S., " gives business people from other countries some insight into our business and personal protocol. Although the book does not claim to go into a great deal of depth, it is nevertheless helpful for those traveling abroad, or for those who have contact with people from other countries and who want to understand their customs and cultures better.
 
Encyclopedia of the Korean War: A Political, Social, and Mil itary History in 3 vols., ed. by Spencer C. Tucker, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000 [REF DS 918 .E53 2000 V. 1-3].
 
This is an extremely thorough encyclopedia of the Korean War in three volumes. The first two volumes contain over 600 signed articles, arranged alphabetically, and volume three contains over 140 primary source documents (arranged by year), a timeline for Korean History going ba ck to 2333 B.C., a selected bibliography, and an index to all three volumes. The same 20 black-and-white maps appear at the beginning of each volume. Numerous black-and-white photographs and drawings are throughout.
 
As the title implies, the focus is not just on military history, it is on the political and social aspects of the Korean War as well. The author asserts that the Korean War marked the beginning of the Cold War national security state, a state of perpetual military preparedness, and also foreshadowed the Vietnam War.
 
Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Bruvand, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2001 [REF GR 105.34 .B78 2001].
 
Written by a professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah, this single volume is a fascinating compendium of those bizarre stories that circu late in contemporary culture. Often the stories are supposed to have happened to a friend of a friend; they are almost believable but are just a little "too good to be true" - that is, a little too odd or too coincidental. Some of the stories date back to the 1960s and 1970s, like "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs," and "The Killer in the Backseat," or are even older, like "The Hook." Others, like "The Kidney Heist," are of more recent vintage and have been spread primarily through the Internet.
 
Although many of the stories are quite lurid, the book takes a scholarly approach to the study of folklore. Its main focus is the alphabetical listing of hundreds of these legends. Each legend is recounted, along with its origin, any variations in the name and details, and related stories. Reference is made to other sources (books and journal articles) for further reading. There are also articles on recurring legend topics and themes, and on the process of studying urban legends. Some general folkloristic topics and terms are likewise discussed in separate articles. Although only legends known to have been told in the U.S. are included, there are articles on the history of urban legends in other countries as well. All in all, fascinating reading.
 
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999 [REF GF 86 .P59 1999].
 
Planning on taking a trip into the wilderness? Going to a foreign country on the brink of civil war? Auditioning for Survivor IV? Or do you just want to know how to deal with certain emergencies? Then consult this best seller.
 
Here are a few of the topics covered, from the table of contents:
› How to Escape from Quicksand
› How to Wrestle Free from an Alligator
› How to Jump from a Building into a Dumpster
› How to Jump from a Moving Car
› How to Identify a Bomb
› How to Deliver a Baby in a Taxicab
› How to Survive an Earthquake
› How to Survive if Your Parachute Fails to Open
› How to Survive If You Are in the Line of Gunfire
› How to Make a Fire Without Matches
 
Although it occasionally may be unclear why you might need the advice (Why would you want to know "How to Jump from a Building into a Dumpster?"), and while the authors issue a very strongly worded disclaimer at the beginning of the book ("DO NOT ATTEMPT TO UNDERTAKE ANY OF THE ACTIVITIES DESCRIBED IN THIS BOOK YOURSELF"), the book is nevertheless (as the authors state) "informative and entertaining, but useful, too" because you never know when life may present you with a life-threatening circumstance.

Linda Neyer
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition