DA -- General History

Biographisches Lexikon zur Weltgeschichte: vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart [Biographical Dictionary of World History: From the Middle Ages to the Present]. Ed. Otfried Dankelmann and Andreas Girbardt. Frankfurt: Lang, 2001. 1,416 p. 22 cm. ISBN 3-631-37646-4: DM 178.00 [01-2-446]

Edited by "historians from Halle" and with contributions by "experts from Germany, Hungary, and the United States" this heavily advertised dictionary claims to fill a gap by paying particular attention to persons from "neglected" Third World countries and from the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe. Living persons are included (e.g., Clinton, Chirac, Blair), although some notable contemporary Germans (Schröder, Rau) are not. With a few exceptions, the 2,000 figures covered in the dictionary are easily found in general encyclopedias. For German ones, Rössler's Biographisches Wörterbuch zur deutschen Geschichte is a far superior source that also includes more bibliographic information. [sh/rs]


Theodor Mommsen als Schriftsteller: ein Verzeichnis seiner Schriften [Theodor Mommsen as an Author: A Bibliography of His Writings]. Ed. Karl Zangemeister. Continued under the auspices of the Royal Library by Emil Jacobs. Newly rev. by Stefan Rebenich. Hildesheim: Weidmann, 2000. xxv, 354 p. 22 cm. ISBN 3-615-00217-2: DM 118.00 [01-2-448]

Originally published in 1887, and greatly augmented in 1905 (two years after Mommsen's death), this bibliography of Mommsen's writings is now available in a new edition edited by a Mommsen scholar. The main part, by and large, has remained unchanged; only a few previously undiscovered publications have been inserted. A new second part reproduces the tables of contents of Mommsen's Gesammelte Schriften [Collected Works] (1904-1913). A selective bibliography has also been added, but its entries are often overly concise. An index provides access to people and subjects mentioned in the main part. [sh/rs]


Altertumswissenschaften digital: Datenbanken, Internet und e-Ressourcen in der altertumswissenschaftlichen Forschung [Digital Ancient Studies: Databases, Internet and E-Resources in Classical and Archaeological Research]. Giovanna Alvoni and Ulrich Rausch. Hildesheim: Olms, 2001. 191 p. ill. 21 cm. (Studienbücher Antike, 5). ISBN 3-487-11248-5: DM 29.80 [01-1-139]

Introductions to the various electronic research tools available to humanities scholars have become quite popular. Given the rapidly evolving nature of the information, however, works that simply compile a laundry list of URLs have a short shelf life. A successful guide will not only list good resources and provide useful explanations of them, but also present the beginner with sensible methods for working with the CD-ROMs, online databases, and appropriate web sites most central to a field of study. The author of Altertumswissenschaften digital, Giovanna Alvoni of the Institute for Secondary Schools in Parma, has essentially achieved this goal, with the help of Ulrich Rausch, who adapted the work to a German-speaking audience. The guide is intended for use by students and scholars doing research in ancient history and classical authors.

The opening chapter, a short history of electronic data processing and its utility for humanists is more engaging than informative. The real meat of the book comes in the next two chapters, which discuss the bibliographic databases (including important library and consortium catalogs, with emphasis on catalogs used heavily by German speakers) and tools for text analysis. The chapter on bibliography also contains a noteworthy subsection on the Internet as global database, with attention to concerns about online privacy and security. The chapter on text analysis mentions the largest online text databases, and lists links to specific texts available on the web, but neglects to say which editions they are based on. Likewise, the otherwise helpful section on full-text CD-ROMs could use more content description and fewer technical instructions. Final chapters and appendices offer explanations of the Internet's various means of communication (e.g., e-mail, newsgroups, listservs), a bibliography, and a glossary.

This well-structured and instructive guidebook attempts to avoid obsolescence by noting that updates are to be posted at the publisher's site <http://www.olms.de>, under "Links," but the latest update given at the time of this review (August 2001) was for October 2000. [ch/rb]


Lexikon der Renaissance [Dictionary of the Renaissance]. Ed. Günter Gurst. Berlin: Directmedia, 2000. 1 CD-ROM. (Digitale Bibliothek, 41). ISBN 3-89853-141-4: DM 69.00 [01-2-451]

This CD-ROM is based on a dictionary of the same title published in the former East Germany in 1989. Its coverage (approximately 6,000 entries) focuses on technology, the natural sciences, and medicine; the geographical emphasis is on Central and Eastern Europe. The content of the CD-ROM has remained unchanged from that of the original dictionary, and the bibliographical data have not been updated, but a large number of easily viewable illustrations have been added. This is a unique dictionary among German-language titles, and the general public will benefit from the added illustrations. However, libraries that already own the 1989 edition will not need the CD-ROM. [ch/rs]


Lexikon der Renaissance [Dictionary of the Renaissance]. Herfried and Marina Münkler. München: Beck, 2000. 472 p. 21 cm. ISBN 3-406-46628-1: DM 49.80 [01-2-452]

In 82 articles, this dictionary attempts to give an overview of the Renaissance. The focus is on art and culture; philosophy and the natural sciences are only marginally covered. In addition to broad survey articles on topics such as discovery and conquest, humanism, painting, etc., one finds entries on many major figures and on geographical centers, with an emphasis on art and culture. The individual articles contain up-to-date bibliographies. The work is less suited for the quick lookup of facts than for enjoyable and leisurely perusal. [ch/rs]


Harenberg-Schlüsseldaten: die entscheidenden Ereignisse im 20. Jahrhundert [Harenberg's Key Facts: Decisive Events of the 20th Century]. Updated and exp. ed. Dortmund: Harenberg-Lexikon-Verlag, 2000. 1,044 p. ill. 25 cm. (Enzyklopädie des 20. Jahrhunderts). ISBN 3-611-00892-3: DM 98.00 [01-1-141]

Under each year from 1900 to 1999, the "highlights" of the year are listed; the jacket claims that "the important has been separated from the unimportant." The amount of space devoted to each year varies. Rubrics such as politics, economy, environment, science, technology, media, society, culture, and sport are present, though not all rubrics appear under every year. Events are described in terms of date and location, of causes and effects, and placed within the larger context; some bibliographical references are included. One special feature is the overviews in the form of tables, called "nodes," which are numbered and referred to in the text. There are "nodes" for changes of government, Nobel Prize winners, cultural movements, sports, as well as other themes; the themes are listed in an alphabetical index on pages 6-8. Other "nodes" present events in individual countries. More than 550 photographs are included. Indexes to persons, place names, subjects, and titles of literary and artistic works are present. For academic libraries, Harenberg-Schlüsseldaten is a better choice than the Chronik des 20. Jahrhunderts [Chronicle of the 20th Century] (see RREA 6:276) published in 1999 by the Bertelsmann Verlag, which in the meantime has bought out the Harenberg Verlag. [sh/crc]


Harenberg-Staatenlexikon: die Geschichte aller Staaten im 20. Jahrhundert [Harenberg Encyclopedia of States: The History of All States in the Twentieth Century]. Dortmund: Harenberg-Lexikon-Verlag, 2000. 991 p. ill. 25 cm. (Enzyklopädie des 20. Jahrhunderts). ISBN 3-611-00894-X: DM 98.00 [01-1-142]

The Harenberg-Staatenlexikon contains the history of all the states of the 20th century (203), even if they no longer exist. In comparison to the Harenberg-Länderlexikon (1998), covering 192 states (see IFB 00-1/4-364), the articles are both less detailed and less general. The historical outlines are limited to the history of the 20th century, and economic information is only peripheral. Although the Staatenlexikon at first glance may appear to be just a remake of the Länderlexikon, it is distinguished by its primarily historical content. One would therefore consider it an information resource for contemporary history, and the latter a general encyclopedia of nations. [sh/mjc]


Metzler-Lexikon Kultur der Gegenwart: Themen und Theorien, Formen und Institutionen seit 1945 [Metzler Lexicon of Contemporary Culture: Themes and Theories, Forms and Institutions since 1945]. Ed. Ralf Schnell. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler, 2000. vi, 565 p. 24 cm. ISBN 3-476-01622-6: DM 58.00 [01-2-453]

Although the lexicon intends to explore the phenomena of contemporary culture, the scope of the work remains vague and the effort leaves much to be desired. The entries are disappointing in both their brevity and superficiality, cross-references are lacking, and significant works are omitted from the bibliographies. For example, the entry on censorship fails to mention the informative catalog of the Wolfenbüttel censorship exhibit, Der Zensur zum Trotz; das gefesselte Wort und die Freiheit in Europa [Despite Censorship: the Fettered Word and Freedom in Europe] (Weinheim, 1991), which gives a panoramic view of censorship from the early modern period through the 1980s. Information on censorship in the German Democratic Republic is only to be found in the entry on state security, with no cross-reference from the entry on censorship. Here again the significant work of Joachim Walther, Sicherungsbereich Literatur: Schriftsteller und Staatssicherheit in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik [Literature as a Security Issue: Writers and State Security in the German Democratic Republic] (Berlin, 1996) receives not a mention. Altogether a book one can live without. [hak/ab]

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