MCJA Book Notes

Introducing BOOK NOTES
A New MCJA On-line Book Review Category

The quantity, quality, and information-density of new archaeological books threaten to overwhelm the traditional journal-based book review process. 

MCJA’s “first-step” expansion of the volunteer peer-review process (in 2013) initiated rapid, open-access, on-line posting of professional reviews as quickly as reviews could be secured from volunteer reviewers in the Midcontinental archaeological community. It was clearly a step in the right direction. Prior to 2013, MCJA had published a total of just 14 book reviews. During 2013–2015 we posted 40 new book reviews. So far, during early January 2016, 8 new review requests have been sent out, and 6 of these volumes have been accepted by volunteer reviewers.

But our new system is already being taxed. To keep abreast of the highest profile, regionally focused Midcontinental archaeology publications, most monograph-length scholarly site-excavation reports published by Cultural Resource Management research organizations must go unreviewed. And there are many such publications. From 2010 to 2016 the Illinois State Archaeological Survey alone published 15 monograph-length excavation reports and artifact studies. Midcontinent-wide, our inability to review these important new CRM volumes—which are obviously of fundamental research interest to MCJA subscribers—is unsettling to say the least.

To avoid overwhelming our reviewer base (not to mention our editors), we will introduce our new MCJA category of on-line Book Notes reviews to serve as “heads up” notices to the scholarly community of new research publications that cannot be fully reviewed in a timely fashion. Some are volumes that were sent out to reviewers who found, after the 10–12 week review period, that they were unable to complete the review.

Book Notes listings will include cover illustrations, volume abstracts, publisher-generated thumbnail reviews, publisher information, and tables of contents.  Hopefully, the study focus and merits of most such volumes will be clear from their author-generated abstracts, summaries, and tables of contents.  Author or agency submission of expanded volume abstracts is especially encouraged. 

Hopefully the Book Notes listings will also generate volunteer reviews from qualified interested professionals. Review copies of the volume will be sent to volunteer reviewers whenever possible. Active and retired professional anthropologists, SOPA members, and MAC or SEAC authors are encouraged to submit book reviews and comments in their areas of study, and any links to other reviews of volumes relevant to MCJA readers that have been published elsewhere. We request that other volunteer reviewers and abstractors contact an MCJA editor or send relevant curriculum vitae with first offers to help out with book reviews and abstracts.

Book Notes categories include:

1. CRM-based site excavations, artifact studies, and project overviews. Many such studies have gone unreviewed for years, and they can be hard to track down. CRM publishers are strongly encouraged to submit scanned book-note information and abstracts to the MCJA editors to be added to our listings. Book Notes for 15 ISAS volumes published since 2010 is attached as an inaugural example of this CRM book-notes category. Hopefully, the study-focus and merits of most such volumes will be clear from their author-generated abstracts, summaries, and tables of contents. Expanded author abstracts are especially encouraged. 

In order to have a CRM report posted to the Book Notes section, simply provide the following to Sarah Boyer (sboyer3@illinois.edu) and we’ll get your volume posted:

  • PDFs of Front/Back covers
  • PDFs of the TOCs
  • Short 400-word maximum summary that highlights why this volume has significance or what is unique and interesting about this particular site/volume

Once these items are received by Sarah Boyer, she will put them together in a PDF for upload to the MCJA website.

2. Specialized technical studies and multi-chaptered multi-authored topical overview volumes, the latter often generated by symposia held at professional meetings. In this case, book-notes listings serve as a notice of publication until more detailed reviews can be secured, rather than having new publications languish “in the pile” while a qualified reviewer (not involved in the study) is sought.

3. Volumes with a focus largely outside the Midcontinental U.S. research area that may intersect the interests of some MCJA readers.

4. Announcements of new editions of previously published volumes.

 

Inaugural Book Notes listings by category:

(Category 1)

ISAS CRM-based excavation reports and artifact studies published from 2010–2015

 

(Category 2)

Byers, A. Martin (2015) Reclaiming the Hopewellian Ceremonial Sphere.

Orser, Charles E., Jr. (2014) A Primer on Modern-World Archaeology.

Stoltman, James B. (2015) Ceramic Petrography and Hopewell Interaction.

 

(Category 3)

Allen, Mark W., and Terry L. Jones (eds.) Violence and Warfare among Hunter-Gathers.

 

(Category 4)

Purdy, Barbara A., and Robert J. Austin How to Do Archaeology the Right Way (2nd Ed.)

Carr, Kurt W. and Roger W. Moeller (2015) First Pennsylvanians: The Archaeology of Native Americans in Pennsylvania

Cipolla, Craig N. and Katherine Howlett Hayes (2015) Rethinking Colonialism: Comparative Archaeological Approaches

Drennan, Robert D., Adam Berrey, and Christian E. Peterson (2015) Regional Settlement Demography in Archaeology