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Encyclopedia of religion in America

by Charles H Lippy; Peter W Williams;

  Print book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Booklist's starred review   (2010-11-11)

Very Good

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by EmpireCountyReferenceInformation

First published <a href="javascript:__doPostBack('__Page','isssearch')">November 15, 2010 (Booklist).</a>

Encyclopedia of Religion in America attempts to do single-handedly what several less-substantive works have been collectively doing for years, including multivolume works like <a href="../../../title/encyclopedia-of-religion-in-america/oclc/ProductInfo.aspx?pid=457827">Contemporary American Religion </a>(2000) and <a href="../../../title/encyclopedia-of-religion-in-america/oclc/ProductInfo.aspx?pid=3353297">Encyclopedia of American Religious History </a>(2009). At the editorial helm are two former presidents of the American Society of Church History.

The signed articles cover most topics one would expect to find in such a resource, including ample attention paid to Canada and Mexico. The gamut of religious groups is, of course, represented (e.g., Christian denominations, Islam, Asian religions) along with dozens of “religious” topics that are uniquely American (e.g., Prohibition, Sports, Supreme Court). Sadly, the encyclopedia’s A–Z coverage does not include biography of any kind. What is does cover, though, is covered with depth. For example, three consecutive articles are devoted to the Episcopalians. Each one is each approximately six pages in length, focuses on a distinct time period, and has its own worthwhile bibliography. This coverage is not atypical, especially when it comes to America’s larger religious groups (e.g., Baptists, Jews, Roman Catholics). In fact, no less than 15 separate entries have Judaism as their focus, ranging from Judaism: Jewish culture to Worship: Jewish. The encyclopedia’s depth is also reflected in its approach to major topics. In the As, users will find not 1 but 9 separate articles on architecture, divided by religious traditions, such as Jewish, Muslim, and Roman Catholic. The same structure is used for worship (7 articles), music (11 articles), and women (8 articles).

Navigating could not be easier. Each of the four volumes begins with two tables of contents (one traditional and one thematic) and ends with a highly detailed index. Excellent bibliographies are found throughout. A must-have resource for most American libraries. Also available online as part of the CQ Press Political Reference Suite of Online Editions.

— Wade Osburn

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