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BOOK REVIEW DIGEST
NINTH ANNUAL CUMULATION
BOOK REVIEWS OF 1913 IN ONE ALPHABET
CLARA ELIZABETH FANNING
DESCRIPTIVE NOTES WRITTEN BY
MARY KATHARINE REELY
THE H. W. WILSON COMPANY
WHITE PLAINS, N. Y. and NEW YORK CITY
It was while reading, for this issue of the BOOK REVIEW DIGEST, a number of the late reviews which at the end of the year must be added to our record to make it complete, that a question formulated itself as to their comparative importance. They were, for the most part, taken from the American Historical Review, the Yale Review, the Hibbert Journal, and magazines of like standing, and the question ran: Is their usefulness commensurate with the thought and scholarship that have gone to their making? The answer, of course, would involve a consideration of the larger question as to the purpose of the book review: Is it to serve as a guide in book selection, or as an after appraisal of a book supposed to have been read, with a view to the fixing of its permanent standing. Perhaps the natural tendency of the BooK REVIEW DIGEST is to consider the matter too much from the one standpoint-the utilitarian-to look upon the review as an instrument only, as a guide. For as such, it is evident, it must serve to one class at least-to the buyers of books, especially to the professional buyer, the librarian, who must stand between the world of newly published books and the reading public.
With this question in mind a few simple tests were made. The eleven books reviewed in the October number of one important quarterly-the Yale Review-were listed. Of these it was found that two had been published in 1910; six in 1912; one in February, and one in March, 1913. Of the books reviewed in the November number of the Journal of Political Economy, a monthly, it was found that one had been published in 1911; five in 1912; one in February, one in March, and five in April, 1913.
The moment to decide on a book's purchase comes early in its history. In important cases the library cannot wait seven months for the judgment of the scholarly reviewer. And it is the scholarly review that is late; it is the specialized periodical that gives belated notice to the literature of its own specialty. For another test, we chose at random, Alger's "Old Law and the New Order,' a book published in March, 1913. It was reviewed in the New York Times on April 20th; in the American Political Science Review, and the Journal of Political Economy in November. The reviews of this one work, as listed in our BOOK REVIEW DIGEST, appeared in the following order: New York Times, 4. L. A. Booklist, Nation, Annals of the American Academy, Literary Digest, Survey, American Political Science Review, Journal of Political Economy. "Immigration and Labor," by Isaac Hourwich, was published late in 1912. was reviewed in the New York Times of December 22, 1912; in the Review of Reviews of January, 1913; American Economic Review, June, 1913; American Journal of Sociology. July, 1913.
We should not, of course, plead for a hurried and careless reviewing of serious and weighty books. The sober second thought represented in these careful analyses of earlier published works is not to be deprecated, and it is to be expected, in the nature of things, that the weekly and the bi-weekly will be more timely in the matter of reviewing current literature than will the monthly and the quarterly, but the situation, from the point of view of the librarian and of the specialist, professors and the like who must count the pennies spent for books, remains regrettable. They must make their choice unaided or on the passing word of the general reviewer.