Book Reviews (Published in the February 2000 issue of The School Library Journal)

Payne, Tom.
The A-Z of Great Writers.
(Carlton, 1999.)
In this ambitious work, Payne introduces the reader to 389 writers. For each author Payne provides a page that lists their major works, a photograph or illustration of the writer, and a short essay emphasizing some aspect of the author's work. The authors represent a wide range of literary periods and nations. It's not often one can see Aphra Behn, Ken Kesey, Ovid and Jean-Paul Sartre discussed in the same book.
Some of Payne's choices are puzzling; for example, why include modern authors E. Annie Proulx and Toni Morrison and not, say, Alice Walker and Annie Dillard? The omissions of Jean Toomer and Zora Neale Hurston are regrettable. Of course, as Payne notes, "a book can only have so many pages." The strength of this work is that its sheer number of entries and its awareness of the changing canon will, as Payne hopes, encourage "more people to read more."

Smith, Kristen M., Ed.
The Lines Are Drawn: Political Cartoons of the Civil War. (Hill Street Press, 1999.)
Smith has compiled a valuable collection of Northern and Southern cartoons that highlight some of the political, economic, and moral issues surrounding the war. Northern works predominate because Southern printers were restricted by the Confederacy's lack of resources. The cartoons are presented chronologically. The racist nature of many of the cartoons may make some readers uncomfortable. Fortunately, Emory M. Thomas addresses this in a helpful introduction.

Smith provides enlightening explanations that shed light on Victorian cultural symbols and beliefs. Thanks to her comments, the reader can learn things such as why Southern cartoonists portrayed Lincoln as a man in a scotch-plaid cape.

These cartoons will add to a reader's understanding of many of the everyday controversies of the Civil War.