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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Encyclopedia of Human Geography by Gerald R. Pitzl (Greenwood) Human geography focuses on the ways that humans interact with each other and with the environment, illuminating the complex processes and nature of our global society. This book presents the full range of this remarkable field, presenting nearly 300 pertinent models, concepts, theories, and people associated with human geography.

Human geography is a broad and fascinating field within the larger discipline of geography. Simply stated, human geography considers all aspects of geography not covered by physical geography except for the more technically based areas, such as cartography and geographic information systems. However, human geography uses maps and other graphics produced in these two areas in research and analysis and incorporates themes in physical geography when doing so will advance the work under way.

The main focus of human geography is, of course, the presence and activi­ties of humans. Themes within human geography reflect a number of perspec­tives: culture, population, economic activity, spatial behavior, political activity, urbanization, perception of place, and the many and varied ways in which humans interact with one another and with their environment. Studying the dynamic content of human geography is like journeying into the minds of other culture groups, being present as socioeconomic development unfolds in a remote African nation, or cruising the speed-of-light communications systems that make the global economy hum. Human geography is about human activ­ity and it is, therefore, an exciting intellectual and emotional engagement.

Beginning with absolute location and ending with zero population growth (ZPG), this encyclopedia includes 266 entries covering pertinent models, con­cepts, and theories used in human geography. In addition, many of the most prominent personalities associated with geography throughout history are introduced. For example, the eminent nineteenth-century scientist Charles Darwin was a member of Britain's esteemed Royal Geographical Society. The Greek scholar Herodotus, who has been called the father of both history and ethnography, wrote extensively about the people and places he visited. The field of geography can claim him as well, because of the profound work he did in describing, and theorizing about, the earth and its physical and human ele­ments.

Each of the entries is followed by at least two suggested readings (book, article, or stable Web site) that may be referred to for additional information.

Some entries contain cross-references, which are identified in bold. The entry section is followed by a selected bibliography, comprising current books within the field. Finally, an appendix lists all the entries grouped by topics within human geography.

The entries in the Encyclopedia of Human Geography represent only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, in this expansive and exciting field of study. There are hundreds of prominent personalities who wear the mantle of "geographer," and there are thousands of ideas and concepts awaiting those who would choose to go further in their exploration of human geography. It is hoped that this ency­clopedia will be helpful to the student as a companion to an Advanced Placement or college textbook, to the general user who simply wants information on aspects of human geography, or to the researcher who wishes to confirm the understanding of a particular topic.

A Geographical History of United States City-Systems: From Frontier to the Urban Transformation by Samuel Otterstrom (Mellen Studies in Geography: Edwin Mellen Press) Everyone in the United States lives within a larger city-system. Whether or not you reside in Manhattan, suburban Chicago, exurban Los Angeles or in the vast rural areas of the Rocky Mountains you belong to a city-system responsible for the channeling and marketing of much of the products or services you consume. In an earlier time, catalogue stores for Sears and Wards dotted many small towns of the Upper Midwest as the receiving point for customer orders of almost any non-perishable product imaginable. The patient days of walking in orders for appliances and clothing at catalogue storefronts and waiting weeks for their arrival at the same storefronts via big trucks from Chicago and Minneapolis are almost gone. Transportation improvements and electronic communication have made more direct interaction between consumer and producer more profitable. Why wait a week or more when the same products are only a half-hour away in the next largest town in stores drawing people from rural hinterlands or even deliverable to your door?

Currently, daily newspapers, television stations, and professional sports teams from major urban centers have vast city-system hinterlands claiming the loyalty of people in smaller towns and rural areas. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is divided between fans of the National Football League's Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. The question of why would residents in the state of Michigan cheer for the team from another state can be easily answered by examining the map of city-systems in the United States. The Western Upper Peninsula is within Milwaukee's city-system which considers the Green Bay Packers their hometown team. But, on the other hand, local television cable systems in the Western Upper Peninsula carry a cable television network devoted exclusively to the other three major league sports teams of Detroit. Professional

sports for baseball, hockey, and basketball have a much longer history in Detroit and those long-standing loyalties for those teams trumps distance. The complexities of space and time explain much about the geographical history of city-systems in the United States.

City-systems offer a unique opportunity for geographers, historians, and social scientists the opportunity to study population change and concentration in larger functional and often formal region through time. Samuel Otterstrom and his collaborators have applied a methodology which tracks population concentrations through time for various city-systems. The resulting product offers scholars the chance to learn more about the historical development of city-systems in the United States. From New York to Los Angeles and many points in between the three phases of city-system development offered in this book provides the reader with a much deeper understanding of important historical questions regarding population concentration, change, settlement and city-system development. While technology has changed many aspects of the city-system interaction making catalogue stores obsolete, the newspaper and television advertisements calling us to shopping centers or big block stores originate from the biggest city of each of the country's 46 city-systems. City-systems are therefore still relevant today, and this volume will look at how the historical development of population concentrations has given us the current landscape of today in order to better understand future patterns.

Scenes from the High Desert: Julian Steward's Life and Theory by Virginia Kerns  ( University of Illinois Press) Julian Steward (1902-72) is best remembered in American anthropology as the creator of cultural ecology, a theoretical approach that has influenced generations of archaeologists and cultural anthropologists. This hybrid biography considers the intellectual and emotional influences of Steward's remarkable career and provides insights into the theoretical development of anthropology during his lifetime. Scenes from the High Desert locates the concept of cultural ecology as a social theory within the context of Steward's lived experience and personal construction of meaning. Kerns explores the scholar's early life in the American West, his continued attachments to western landscapes and inhabitants, his research with Native Americans, and the writing of his classic work, Theory of Culture Change. Extracting the personal and professional experiences that shaped his ideas on labor, technology, and the natural world, Kerns focuses particularly on the ideas and experiences that gave rise to Steward's theory of cultural ecology and most influenced American anthropology. Through her exploration of Steward's career and his particular interest in men's labor, Kerns illustrates how Steward's concept of the patrilineal band was central to his intellectual work and grounded in his own social experiences and autobiographical memory, especially memories of place. With fluid prose and rich detail, Scenes from the High Desert captures the essence and breadth of Steward's career while carefully measuring the ways he reinforced the male-centered structure of mid-twentieth-century American anthropology.

Kerns suggests that emotion- and image-laden memories and personal meaning played a highly creative role in what Steward thought of as purely "scientific" and "objective" lines of argument. Personal memories from his early life made certain ideas real to him, imbuing them with felt truth. His theory od cultural ecology also provided a way of ordering and making sense of his social experiences as a man, especially those that took place during a critical time in his life, which he remembered as a period of transformation and self-­definition.

In asserting this, Kerns is not asserting that cultural ecology was "subjective" and "unscientific" because Steward, like everyone, had values and beliefs that made complete "objectivity" unlikely. Rather, Kerns aims to demonstrate that autobio­graphical memory and the personal construction of meaning had a direct and creative influence on Steward's intellectual work as an anthropologist, most obviously by channeling his attention, sensitizing him to certain aspects of human social life, and deflecting his attention from others. Like every person, his vision was highly selective, as were his memories, and this necessarily influenced his theoretical work. Kerns main point is that his work was not simply an act of the imagination nor primarily a product of empirical research; instead, his most important concepts and ideas derived largely from autobiographical memory. Memory images of known people and places and events from his own life, not images of imagination, played the major part in the construction of cultural ecology. This biography is likely to renew interest in Steward’s theory and also deepen the self-reflexive image of American anthropological discourse.

Human Geography in Action 2nd edition by Michael Kuby, Patricia Gober, John Harner (0471400939) (Wiley) This book/CD package takes an active learning approach to human geography. Computerized activities expose readers to GIS, spreadsheets, simulation and graphing without having to learn four different complex software packages. The exercises explore AIDS, population growth, jobs, environmental change, baseball and other interesting topics. Human Geography in Action teaches readers how to collect, analyze, interpret and present information. [Review pending]

Human Geography in Action workbook-style text contains 13 activities that challenge students to collect, manipulate, display, and interpret geographic information. Activities in areas such as housing segregation in Northern Ireland and AIDS epidemiology teach basic concepts. Each chapter follows a consistent format, with goals, background information, key terms, and step-by-step instructions. Worksheets have room for answers, and are perforated for easy removal. The CD- ROM contains seven interactive projects. [Review pending]

Exploring Geographical Information Systems, 2nd Edition by Nicholas R. Chrisman (0471314250) (Wiley) An exploration of geographic information and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that expands the discussion beyond the normal input-processing-output sequence. The text uses geographical information and case studies to organize an in-depth introduction to the principles and applications of GIS. The author first examines the manipulations that support analytical uses of GIS, including measurement and frameworks, representations, data quality, transformation and operations, parametric mapping, simple logic and overlay, taxonomy, distance transformations and surfaces. He then moves on to a discussion of operations that connect the practical exercises in the book to professional applications of GIS techniques in bureaucratic, social and cultural contexts. [Review pending]

Geographical Information Systems GIS: Modeling in Raster 1st edition by Michael N. Demers (0471319651) (Wiley) The primary focus of this text is on the process of cartographic modeling and GIS modeling. The text goes beyond cartographic modeling to incorporate supplementary or complementary technologies and logics to show that spatio-temporal modeling is not limited to cartographic modeling, nor to Map Algebra. DeMers consistent, friendly and engaging style has been highly praised by reviewers of this title as well as users of his market leading Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems. [Review pending]


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