New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (6 Vol. Set)

ISBN: 0684313774

Category: Technical

Tag: Science/Engineering

Posted on 2009-02-07. By anonymous.


Maryanne Cline Horowitz, "New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (6 Vol. Set)"
Charles Scribner's Sons | 2004-12-03 | ISBN: 0684313774 | 2780 pages | PDF | 37 MB

*Starred Review* This long-awaited update to the original Dictionary of the History of Ideas (see p.1700 for an excerpted version of our review, which was published October 1, 1974) is "designed to introduce a general audience to the main ideas and movements of global cultural history from antiquity to the twenty-first century." This is an entirely new work rather than a mere revision, featuring more than twice as many articles as the original (well over 700 as compared to just over 300) as well as a more definite global view of the topics covered when compared to the Eurocentric nature of the older set. There are more than 550 contributors, including such well-known writers as Peter Burke, Nathan Glazer, Arthur Hertzberg, Moshe Idel, Margaret L. King, and Martin E. Marty. Entries include those on the same topics but entirely rewritten from the original (City, Nationalism, Time) along with those that could barely have been thought of in the mid-1970s (Computer science, Sexual harassment, Visual culture). Just as telling, reflecting the scholarly shift over the past 30 years, are entries that no longer exist, such as Baconianism; Faith, hope, and charity; and Uniformitarianism and catastrophism.
Although the original edition was not entirely bereft of illustrations, they were sparse. Not so with this edition: black-and-white illustrations are scattered throughout, most notably in entries such as Architecture, Humanity in the arts, Iconography, and Maps and the ideas they express.
Each volume opens with a "Reader's Guide" that provides a general outline of the articles in the set, divided into four main sections: "Communication of Ideas," "Geographical Areas," "Chronological Periods," and "Liberal Arts Disciplines and Professions." The detailed "Reader's Guide" is a good companion to the index, which occupies more than 200 pages of volume 6. Main entries in the set are often divided by separately authored subentries; examples include gender (divided into overview and Gender in the Middle East) and motif (Motif in literature and Motif in music. The longest main entry of the set, the 30-page Communication of ideas, is divided into seven parts. Articles conclude with up-to-date bibliographies (often divided into primary and secondary sources) and see also references. The casual reader will likely miss an entry often referred to in various cross-references: the 54-page essay Historiography, which is placed just after the preface in volume 1 rather than in the main alphabetic arrangement. It would have been helpful to mention this placement in the see also references.
The casual reader may also be caught off guard by the fact that many entries presume that the reader is acquainted with the older edition--or at the very least has some background in the topic. Law, for example, begins, "The development of law and jurisprudential ideas since the 1970s" and continues to concentrate on events of the recent past rather than providing the historical concentration seen in the previous edition. The preface affirms that this title "focuses on topics of interest today and features developments in scholarship since 1970." Does this mean libraries must retain the older set? Fortunately, the answer is no. Scribner allowed the first set to be released free of charge online courtesy of a grant authorized by the Journal of the History of Ideas for digitization through the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center. It is accessible at
This well-written set will appeal to anyone interested in the topic and is highly recommended for large public and academic libraries. In all, worth the 30-year wait. Ken Black

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