Oxford Dictionary of Dates - Book Review
edited: Friday, May 18, 2001
By Frances L Spiegel
Posted: Friday, May 18, 2001
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A Review of the Oxford Dictionary of Dates edited by Cyril Lesie Beeching
I recently purchased this book believing it would help me in my research. I was right and can only recommend it to every writer.
This fact-packed. pocket-sized almanac will guide you through social, scientific, literary and historical events on a daily basis.
For example, did you know that Elvis Presley, Shirley Bassey, David Bowie and Wilkie Collins were all born 8 January, albeit different years, or that on 16 June 1963 ValentinaTereshkova became the first woman in space?
The dictionary is subdivided into five sections: Introduction; Dates, Index, Chronology of World Events; Chronology of Scientific Developments; Kings and Queens of England and the United Kingdom; Prime Ministers and Presidents.
The Chronology of World Events lists events from Palaeolithic Man to modern times, often in great detail. However, it is a pity that Beeching lists the invention of the syringe in France In 1853 but does not identify its inventor.
The Chronology of Scientific Developments is subdivided into sections: Medical Science, Telecommunications Revolution, Space Exploration, and Computer Technology.
The final sections, Kings and Queens of England and the United Kingdom, and Prime Ministers and Presidents are exactly what their titles imply. Both are clearly laid out reference tools, invaluable to students and casual readers alike.
Alphabetical indexing permits ease of access to the people and events of the book but does have some shortcomings. For example, the listing for Gilbert, Sir William Schwenck, guides readers to 3, 13, 24 May; 18, and 29 Nov. All five entries must be read to find Sir William's birthday but you will find no details of his death. The entry on 24 May refers to William Gilbert (1540-1603), royal physician to Elizabeth I, and not Sir William Schwenck Gilbert at all. The physician William Gilbert does not appear in the index!
Having said that, A Dictionary of Dates is an excellent reference book and is exceptional value for money.
Copyright Frances Spiegel 2001