The London Encyclopedia, edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert (St. Martin's, $49.95). Ben Weinreb is a dealer in architectural prints, with a passion for London history; Christopher Hibbert is a superb popular historian; together (with the help of several dozen contributors) they have put together a massive bedside book that touches on every aspect of England's greatest city. Here are brief histories of Savile Row, Highgate Cemetery and Westminster Abbey; articles on street music, city livery companies, the police and the major public statues; and period illustrations on nearly every page. All in all, a book nearly as monumental as its subject.
Joseph Story and the American Constitution, by James McClellan (University of Oklahoma, $29.95). Joseph Story became a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at age 32 and served for 34 momentous years (1811-1845), a period when the foundations of American constitutional law were laid. He established the principle that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to review issues of federal constitutional law raised in state court proceedings. The obviousness of that principle to us -- the alternative would be a national constitution that varied from state to state -- does not belie the difficulty of making it stick in the early 19th century. This biography argues that Story -- and not his more visible colleague, Chief Justice John Marshall -- deserves the largest share of credit for the judicial system we have now.
American Datelines, by Ed Cray, Jonathan Kotler and Miles Beller (Facts on File, $24.95). Here are 140 momentous American news stories as they were originally written, from a 1704 account of piracy off the Rhode Island coast to the 1989 oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound. Some of the pieces come fraught with hindsighted irony: For example, a 1950 Wisconsin paper covered the launch of Senator McCarthy's red scare but relegated the famous list of 205 (his working number at the time) Communists in the State Department all the way to the eighth paragraph. On the lighter side, Grantland Rice's hyperbolic lead for Notre Dame's 1924 football victory over Army remains powerful: "Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden."
Greenways for America, by Charles E. Little (Johns Hopkins, $22.95). The American urge to pave and build has subsided of late; instead local activists are stitching together and refurbishing a pot-pourri of existing rights of way and other routes into paths for hikers and bicyclists. In telling the story of this movement, Charles Little, a Washington-area writer and conservationist, traces the greenway concept to the seminal landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, whose unrealized design for the University of California envisioned a grand divided parkway to follow the contour of the land as it connected Berkeley and Oakland.
Two Hundred Years: Stories of the Nation's Capital, by Jeanne Fogle (Vandamere Press, P.O. Box 5243, Arlington, Va. 22205; $14.95). Here is the skinny on such locals as W.W. Corcoran, who built the art museum that bears his name; Alexander R. Sheperd, the political boss commemorated by a Dupont Circle-neighborhood pub; native son Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, who drew inspiration from his first job to write his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag," at age 14; and that creepy favorite, J. Edgar Hoover. "Hoover had bureau employees work on his house when something needed to be repaired," the author reports. "Once, when a light bulb burned out, Hoover became so upset a decison was made to replace every bulb in the house twice a month to avoid having any burn out."
The History of CARE: A Personal Account, by Wallace J. Campbell (Praeger, $42.95). "CARE package" has entered the lexicon as a kind of sentimental gift from home -- a batch of cookies, for example, arriving in a college dormitory mailbox. Organization founder Wallace Campbell reminds the reader that CARE packages originated as life-savers, meant to help "millions of Europeans through the bitter food shortages that followed World War II." The original package, by the way, was a whopper, intended to "sustain life for active soldiers -- 10 soldiers for one day, or one soldier for 10 days." Thus, it would likely contain such quantities as 9.8 pounds of "canned solid meat, stews, and hashes" and much, much more.