Chambers Biographical Dictionary (LAROUSSE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY)

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9780550160607: Chambers Biographical Dictionary (LAROUSSE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY)
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Marking the centenary of the first publication of a now-classic volume, this thoroughly revised and updated edition continues the tradition of excellence offering over 17,500 profiles of notable achievers. With more than 3,000 completely new entries, the Chambers Biographical Dictionary provides expanded coverage of contemporary figures including a wide range of luminaries such as Nadine Gordimer, Alan Greenspan, Wayne Gretzky. Still notable for its global and historical perspective - from Alexander the Great to Nelson Mandela - this new book covers an ever broader spectrum of human achievement including the arts, science and technology, popular entertainment, sports, religion, the media, politics and business. Each fascinating biography includes the historical and social context. A more attractive and readable volume than ever, each also entry now features a convenient at-a-glance summary under the name, while particularly important and influential people are highlighted in special boxed entries. Fully indexed with alphabetical and subject indexes. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary remains an essential reference for the general reader as well as writers, journalists and researchers.

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From Booklist:

First published in 1897, this volume contains some 17,500 entries, more than 3,000 of which are entirely new. Using a historical as well as a global perspective, this single volume attempts to bring together in one place biographical data about important as well as not-so-important figures, past and present. Addressing all periods of history from B.C.E. to the present, the work includes significant numbers of women and small minority groups. The fifth edition, published in 1990, appeared in the U.S. under the title Cambridge Biographical Dictionary [RBB F 15 91], with more than 19,000 entries. It was reprinted in 1994 with the title Larousse Biographical Dictionary.

As in earlier editions, a broad spectrum of achievement is covered, including the areas of science, technology, the arts and humanities, education, sports, popular culture, academia, politics, the military, and even those involved in illegal careers, such as John Dillinger and Al Capone. The entries are clear and easier to read than in the 1990 edition. New to this edition is the use of italics at the beginning of each entry for the nationality and occupation of the subject. Entry length varies from a few lines in one column to two-thirds of a page.

Also new to this edition are 250 sidebars devoted to those people judged to be of particular influence, importance, or interest. Some examples are Dante Alighieri, Ingrid Bergman, Thomas Edison, and Henry Purcell. Bibliographic information and quotations are included in these sidebars. Limited bibliographic information is also sometimes included in regular entries.

The entries are listed alphabetically, by last name of subject. There are no indexes of any kind, as are found in some other biographical dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster's Biographical Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, 1995). Valuable information about the spelling of subjects' names as well as information about the treatment of foreign names and titles is given in the introductory "Note on the Text" at the beginning of the volume.

As is generally the case with this type of reference work, one can question coverage. Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of the Hawaiian Islands, is included, but not King Kamehameha I, who unified the Hawaiian Islands and was their first monarch. Baseball greats Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth are included, but not Mickey Mantle. Author James Jones is included, but not Pulitzer Prize^-winning author James Michener. Since this is a British publication, there is a British bias. However, an effort has been made to expand coverage of contemporary American figures, with entries for Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Michael Jackson (who rates a sidebar), Florence Griffith-Joyner, Kenny Rogers, and Roseanne, to name a few.

In its centenary year, this work continues to be a valuable resource for public and academic libraries. Its pedigree makes it a good supplement to other titles by providing information on British figures whose fame has crossed the Atlantic, such as "Mr. Bean" (Rowan Atkinson) and director Mike Leigh. It is also, for now, the most current single-volume biographical reference source. Because many names have been dropped to make room for newer and longer entries, larger libraries may want to hold on to earlier editions.

From Library Journal:

Published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first edition of this reference standard, this sixth edition features 17,500 profiles of international notables from ancient to contemporary times. Coverage includes the arts, sciences, entertainment, media, sports, religion, politics, and commerce, among other fields. Alphabetically arranged entries feature the nationality and occupation of each person (an improvement over the fifth edition), year of birth (and death, when appropriate), brief career highlights, historical and social context, bibliographic information, and discography and/or film credits when applicable. Aristotle, the Beatles, and several hundred other "particularly important, influential and interesting" world figures are highlighted with special, longer, boxed entries with more detailed information. Although "achievement and recognition" are noted as inclusion criteria, notorious individuals who may be less enduring?e.g., skater Tonya Harding, actor Hugh Grant, and cult leader David Koresh?have also gained entry. Minor typographical and factual errors detract only somewhat. Recommended for its scope, breadth, currency, and ease of use, this will benefit even those libraries that own older, similar resources such as Merriam-Webster's Biographical Dictionary (1995), St. James Guide to Biography (1991), or the Biography Almanac (1983).?Elizabeth Connor, Medical Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Charleston
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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