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424 The Canadian Historical Review factual statements are often repeated, an annoying fault in a short book. Both of the existing volumes, and the third to come, could well have been combined in one, well-illustrated, account. Such a book would attract a wide and grateful readership. Forecasts for Flying is institutional history, though it does rise above the level of many of that genre, while still falling short of a history that asks more penetrating questions. But that is probably not the author's purpose, for these studies establish an accessible record of a venerable institution. Perhaps he realizes that if no one does the job now, it may not get done in future. A cost-cutting government might find privatizing the service attractive. Once sold to foreign interests, its history would rapidly fade away. Despite its problems, Thomas's book belongs on the bookshelf of everyone interested in the history of Canadian science , aviation, and government institutions. RICHARD A. JARRELL York University Using Computers in History: A Practical Guide. M.J. LEWIS and ROGER LLOYD-JONES. New York: Routledge I996 . Pp. xiv, 248, $s9.95 cloth, $I8.95 paper This book grew out of the authors' experience in teaching an introductory course in historical computing to undergraduates at Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom and is intended to serve as a workbook for that course. Its scope is much more modest than the title indicates. It is not a comprehensive introduction to using computers in history, but a .guide to two major types of software, spreadsheets and database systems, with how-to instructions for using Microsoft Excel and Access in their Windows 3-1 releases. It is aimed at undergraduates totally unacquainted with computers. The book begins with instructions for the use of the book and a cursory introduction to the application of computers to historical inquiry. It then turns to a presentation of spreadsheet software, gives step-by-step instructions on data entry and formatting in Excel, and offers a series of exercises designed to teach the construction of graphs and charts. The last section of the book deals with databases. After a rudimentary presentation of the usefulness of databases for historical analysis, the last two chapters provide exercises in database creation and in data analysis. Examples are taken from nineteenth- and twentieth -century British economic and social history. The book includes copious illustrations from screen shots showing software interfaces and final output, as well as appendices listing the data used in the exercises. Within the limited scope given to the book, the authors are fairly Book Reviews 425 successful. The workshops are easy to follow, well structured pedagogically, and written in a simple style reminiscent of commercial software tutorials. There are indications that the authors do not completely grasp some of the subject matter they present in the book. The characteristics of relational database systems are not clearly defined and the database examples do not adhere to the rules governing the structure of data in relational database systems. The discussion of the concept of correlation fails to explain the statistical postulates on which correlation is based; it shows only how to use Excel to produce a correlation coefficient . Worse, they fail to state explicitlythe models and assumptions on which some of the hypotheses used as examples are based. It is also unfortunate that the book puts most of its emphasis on the use of spreadsheets rather than on database systems. Database systems allow the manipulation of structured data, whether of a quantitative or a qualitative nature, for a variety of analytical purposes, while spreadsheets are restricted to the quantitative analysis of data. Furthermore, the book fails to introduce an important feature of Access and Excel: the ability to link data easily between the two applications. There are some errors of fact (the first successful commercial PC was not the IBM machine introduced in 1981 but the Apple n), of definition (psephology is the study of elections, not only of poll book data), and of formulation (economic historians use computers to test hypotheses derived from statistical models, not to formulate their models). There are also a few lapses in editing that are annoying. The very elementary...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 424-425
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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