Duck Duck Book

1 – world history of tax rebellions
06.13.2004, 12:04 am
Filed under: social sciences

A world history of tax rebellions : an encyclopedia of tax rebels, revolts, and riots from antiquity to the present / David F. Burg.
New York : Routledge, c2004.
[MCL call number: R-336.2 B954w 2004; 1 copy reference only at Central]

A handy little reference book on an odd but useful subject. The book includes a section on taxing terms and strategies, short biographies of notable figures in the history of tax rebellion (all men, as far as I can tell, except for Joan Baez), and a series of entries on various tax rebellions arranged chronologically, from c. 2350 b.c. to 2002 in our own century. Tax rebellions in Europe and North America make up the bulk of the book, but shorter entries are provided on rebellions in in the Caribbean, China, India, North Africa, and the Middle East. The book also has a decent subject index, an index by place name, and a concise bibliography.

A World History of Tax Rebellions is clearly arranged and informative, but it has some problems. One is that it doesn’t seem to mention Oregon at all, despite our complex and fascinating history of tax-related strife. Another is that some entries that should be long (like the one on the British poll tax rebellion of the early 1990s) are actually rather short (like two measley pages). However, it is still a worthy read. Why don’t they put this sort of thing in airport waiting areas, instead of USA Today and Teen People?


1 – history of prison
06.13.2004, 12:02 am
Filed under: social sciences

A history of prison and confinement in Africa / edited by Florence Bernault ; translated by Janet Roitman.
Portsmouth, NH : Heinemann, c2003.
[MCL call number: 365.96 B524h 2003; 1 copy, no holds]

This is a book of academic essays on prisons in Africa, with a focus on the colonial introduction of formalized penal systems, and the various adaptations those systems have taken in post-colonial societies. There is also some discussion of punishment in pre-colonial societies (termed “customary law” by the book’s index). Most of the book discusses punishment and penal systems in sub-Saharan Africa.

I haven’t read the whole book, but the introduction and the bits and pieces that caught my eye were clear and reasonably well-written — many of you are familiar with my impatience with academic writing, but for those of you who are not, you should know this is fairly high praise. Six of the authors are at universities in the United States, three in France, one in Cameroon, one in Britain, and one in Senegal.

1 – celebrity death certificates
06.13.2004, 12:02 am
Filed under: history & geography

Celebrity death certificates.
McFarland, c2003.
[MCL call number: 920.02 C392d 2003; two copies, no holds]

Okay, this is a really weird book.  Trying to think of practical uses for it, I can only imagine very specific and very strange things.  It contains just what it sounds like it contains, facsimiles of the death certificates of celebrities.  The facsimiles are followed by a brief, one-paragraph biography each celebrity.  Most are actors or film people: Walt Disney, Jimmy Durante, Jean Harlow, Gypsy Rose Lee, Barbara Stanwyck, Sharon Tate, Frank Zappa, etc.

The weirdest thing, I think, is looking at the medico-lingo for causes of death.  There’s lots of “acute respiratory infection,” “gunshot wound of head” (and one “cerebral destruction due to gunshot wound to head”), “cardiopulmonary arrest,” and some “cerebral thrombosis.”

1 – africa south
06.13.2004, 12:01 am
Filed under: websites

Africa south of the Sahara : selected internet resources / Prepared by Karen Fung for the Information and Communication Technology Group (ICTG), African Studies Association, USA.

This is a directory of websites that discuss or have to do with African Studies and Africa.  It’s quite extensive, and its data is arranged by country/region, as well as by topic.  Most of the websites I found in the directory were produced outside of the continent of Africa, but a significant minority were African-produced.  In particular, I thought the sections on maps and health were interesting. 

But Africa South of the Sahara‘s main value to me is that it covers many African topics and is kept reasonably current — I haven’t come across any other web-based resource on Africa that aims for this kind of comprehensiveness and is also relatively well-maintained.