They Made History: A Biographical Dictionary

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9780139152573: They Made History: A Biographical Dictionary
From Booklist:

Wigoder, who has edited many other reference works, has chosen approximately 700 famous people from all fields of human endeavor from ancient times to the present for this biographical dictionary. Those included "advanced the march of civilization and broadened the human experience"; no other specific criteria for selection are given. Excluded from consideration were people who are still alive and those who made their mark in the performing arts.

Forty contributors wrote the unsigned entries, which range in length from 500 to 1,500 words. Names are followed by birth and death dates and a phrase indicating nationality and claim to fame. Entries discuss formative years, influences, and accomplishments in an interesting and informative way. Nearly all entries include a bibliography of from one to five books but cite only author, title, and date. Some include titles with 1993 dates; others have very old books, such as the entry Xenophon, which lists only a 1930 title.

Readers appreciate as many access points as possible, and the lack of any indexing here is a drawback. A subject index, a chronological index, or a nationality or country index would help users find information more easily.

The black-and-white illustrations are uneven in quality--some are not clear or would have looked better if cropped. Others are unusual--a photograph of Truman shirtless holding up a fish and of Kafka with friends in a souvenir photo from an amusement park. A magnifying glass is needed to be sure it is Charles Lindbergh in the cockpit of a plane. Another feature of this dictionary is the boxes that appear every few pages that include quotations by or about the subject.

While information on most of the people covered in They Made History is available in any encyclopedia, it will aid students and is suitable for high school, public, and college libraries.

From Library Journal:

Wigoder, editor of the Encyclopedia of Judaism ( LJ 2/1/90) and other reference books, has compiled 750 biographies of individuals from all times and many cultures who have made significant contributions to history. No living persons are included. The entries are in alphabetical order, two columns per page, with a photo or portrait where available. Gray-shaded insets highlight quotations, and each biography contains at least one bibliographical reference. The much more inclusive Webster's Biographical Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, 1988) and Cambridge Biographical Dictionary ( LJ 1/91) contain much of the same information. Wigoder seeks to provide depth and interpretation not found in encyclopedia accounts. The ancient world is well represented: Homer, Zoroaster, Moses, Confucius, and Jesus all appear. Women are underrepresented, and some entries are questionable: e.g., Carl Sandburg but not Emily Dickinson; D.H. Lawrence but not Virginia Woolf. Perfoming artists are not represented, an argument can be made for the inclusion of such popular culture creators as Walt Disney and the Beatles. While not a substitute for the works listed above or for other established biographical compilations, this work can be recommended for those academic, public, and other libraries seeking complementary biographical material.
- Harry E. Whitmore, formerly with Univ. of Maine, Augusta
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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