Greetings from lovely Hermosillo, Sonora.
One of my students just brought the latest issue of Latin American Antiquity (LAA) down to
But the professional archaeology journals are not publishing anywhere close to the needed numbers of book reviews. New books should be reviewed in several peer-review journals. I don’t know the situation in North American archaeology, but I hope it is far better than in
For Mesoamerican archaeology, Ancient Mesoamerica is the top journal but they do not publish book reviews. Some specialized journals (Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl or Anales de Antropología) do publish book reviews, but they are few in number. Some unrefereed newsletters (e.g., Nahua Newsletter) also have reviews, but they tend to be few in number and of uneven quality.
Perhaps my earlier complaint about the small number of good critical book reviews in NW archaeology was misplaced – it’s hard to have a lot of good reviews when books are simply not getting reviewed. Book reviews are an important part of the quality control mechanism in a field like archaeology, and NW archaeology is now suffering in this respect. I think it is a real crisis.
It was probably my worry about the sorry state of archaeology book reviews that led me to accept an offer to become a book review editor for
NEVERTHELESS, in writing that last sentence, it occurred to me that H-Net COULD become a major venue for archaeological book reviews. It would require establishment of a new sub-list (something like “H-Archaeology”), with a moderated listserv and some dedicated book review editors. There is a level of bureaucratic organization required, with a board and moderators, by-laws, etc. The N-Net office handles all of the logistics of obtaining books and sending them to reviewers, so review editors just have to locate books, find reviewers, and do an initial edit of the reviews (alas, one the the joys of my tenure as book review editor for LAA was that I got to put my grubby paws on all the new books as soon as they were released!). The book reviews are fully equivalent to those published in journals in terms of quality, and professionalism; in fact the regulations and training for
Oh, did I mention that the book reviews on H-Net are OPEN ACCESS ? Maybe its time to free the peer-reviewed book reviews from the many limitations of the SAA (publisher of LAA) by setting up an Open Access venue, whether on H-Net or elsewhere.
If you are not familiar with OA (and even if you ARE familiar with it), please look at Peter Suber's Open Access Overview.