Fall 1998

University of California Press 1998

Fall Books 1998

The University of Chicago Press 1998
A book review by Danny Yee © 1998 http://dannyreviews.com/
Browsing publishers' catalogues is always fun. Quite apart from the pleasure of picking books to review, they are often attractive and fascinating publications in their own right, with glossy colour covers and black and white photographs accompanying the descriptions of books.

University presses publish varied and interesting books; California and Chicago are among the largest, with the most substantial and attractive catalogues. Monograph series aside, both have their specialisations — Chicago in gay politics, cartography, and the law; California in classical studies and Californian fiction and history, among others — but they range over pretty much all the disciplines and also publish many books "of general interest".

Some publishers' catalogues are chock full of hyperbole and marketing-speak, especially in those areas which are overpopulated with books (many areas of computing fall into this category). University presses tend to provide more informative blurbs, often educational in their own right. Take, as an example, the description of Land of Chamise and Pines (Richard A. Minnich and Ernesto Franco Vizcaino; Volume 80, University of California Publications in Botany).

In marked contrast to California's landscape of urban sprawl, expansive agriculture, and wildlands altered by protectionist management systems, many landscapes in neighbouring Baja California would still be recognizable to the first European explorers. This book shows that the vegetation of present-day Baja California is remarkably similar to that observed in the 18th and 19th centuries, and that historical fire and grazing management has done little to alter the region's resilient mediterranean-type shrublands and forests.
That's not quite exciting enough to make me want to read the book, but it's an intriguing snippet, something to loose the mind and set the imagination wandering.

Another great thing about publishers' catalogues is that you should be able to get hold of free copies, even if you aren't a book reviewer. Or you can visit their web sites, which contain pretty much the same material.

October 1998

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