|A book not worthy of review?|
Why not? This is a real question, not a rhetorical question that I will now proceed to answer. The book has been reviewed by two urban journals. Caroline Dodds Pennock wrote a review in the Urban History, and Elizabeth Graham recently reviewed it for the online forum, H-Urban (*** disclaimer: I am one of several review editors for H-Urban, but I did not solicit or edit this review, which was handled by another editor). But why won't journals in my own home fields review the book?
I have spoken several times in the blog about what I call the "book review crisis" in New World archaeology/anthropological archaeology. Some of the main journals (e.g., Ancient Mesoamerica) don't publish book reviews, and others (e.g., Latin American Antiquity) have dropped to embarrasingly low levels of reviews (about one per issue lately). These are my previous posts on the subject:
Latin American Antiquity book review update (14-October, 2010)
Has Latin American Antiquity abandoned book reviews (12-April, 2010)
The book review crisis in Latin American archaeology (21-August, 2009)
Is there a book review crisis in New World archaeology? (27-July, 2008)
It is interesting that in the three years I have been complaining about this, not one journal editor, or book review editor, or journal editorial board member has even mentioned the issue to me. The obvious explanation here is that they aren't following this blog. Ok, c'est la vie. But why are journals not publishing book reviews? It is not just me - at one point I made a list of some important books in my field that had not been reviewed by the journals (and now I can't find the list...). No, I'm not angling for a job as a book review editor. Been there, done that. Maybe again someday, but certainly not with a sabbatical coming up soon.
I apologize here for using my own case to make a general point, but it is a case I know well. But I do feel strongly about the general point, and I wish I had an explanation (and, better still, a solution).