This biographical encyclopedia covers athletes as far back as tennis pioneer Mary Outerbridge (b. 1852) and as recent as Sarah Hughes (b. 1985), the figure skater whose stunning come-from-behind win at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City captured viewers' hearts worldwide. Edelson, a former sports columnist and reporter, has chosen 153 athletes based on three criteria: "greatest athletes," "most significant trailblazers," and "diversity" (of sport, race, and time period). The articles engagingly summarize the athlete's career and usually narrate the most dramatic event in her career (e.g., Kerri Strug's landing on a broken ankle, Wilma Rudolph's triple Olympic gold, Brandi Chastain's winning soccer goal). Each article ends with two to five sources for further reading, and the book also includes a two-page general bibliography, a list of athletes by sports and by era, and an index. Unfortunately, the book has only 50 photographs, though it would have been useful to see pictures of all the athletes. Its closest competitor, Janet Woolum's Outstanding Women Athletes: Who They Are and How They Influenced Sports in America (2d ed. 1998), covers fewer athletes (86 vs. 153) but has photos of each. The articles are similar in writing interest and length (about two pages). Woolum includes an extensive section on history and useful appendixes listing winners in sports events over the years. Of course, Edelson includes more recent athletes, such as Hughes, track star Marion Jones, and bobsledder Vonetta Flowers. Libraries with Woolum's first edition, issued in 1992, should update it either with the second edition or with Edelson's title, either of which would fill the reference need in this area. Recommended for college and public libraries.
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