Book by Erin McKean & James Clapp

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Jan 29 01:57:13 UTC 2004

On Jan 28, 2004, at 4:02 PM, Enid Pearsons wrote:

> | Another item from the January 2004 issue of CHOICE Magazine (the
> leading
> | review medium for academic books):
> |
> | 1001 Legal Words You Need to Know, ed. by Jay M. Feinman, James E.
> Clapp,
> | and Erin McKean.  Oxford, 2003.  239p bibl afp ISBN 0-19-516503-9,
> $17.95
> |
> | . . . In addition to defining the 1,001  headwords, Feinman uses his
> | expertise and insight to interpret clearly,  succinctly, and
> intelligibly
> | ten legal problems often encountered by  ordinary people...
> Fred, thank you for sharing these reviews with us. I was in-house
> editor
> for James Clapp's _Random House Webster's Dictionary of the Law_ (ISBN
> 0-375-70239-3, $17.95), and I'd like to point out to the list that in
> Oxford's _1001 Legal Words_ it was Clapp, not Feinman, who employed
> "his
> expertise and insight to interpret clearly, succinctly, and
> intelligibly
> ten legal problems often encountered by ordinary people (e.g., what is
> power of attorney; how to understand a contract, how to make a living
> will)." Although Jay Feinman selected and edited all the entry terms
> and
> definitions, Clapp wrote all ten of the topical essays that this
> reviewer
> so highly recommends.

i was astonished to see CHOICE referring to a co-authored book as the
work of the first listed author.  undergraduate students do this a lot,
and i always correct them.  (at least some of them genuinely believe
that books and articles *really* have just one author, who's listed
first; the others are just people who helped in some way.  this belief
undoubtedly arises from their own experience in research and writing,
which almost never includes true collaboration.)  maybe i'm
oversensitive, since the very common scheme of listing authors in
alphabetical order almost always puts me last, but attributing a joint
work to its first-listed author is a vulgar error.

it *might* be that the CHOICE reviewer reasoned that since the authors
of this book were listed out of alphabetical order, with feinman before
clapp and mckean, feinman must have been the principal author.  it is
true that authors are sometimes listed in order of descending
contribution -- this is the case for Elizabeth Zwicky, Simon Cooper,
and Brent Chapman, Building Internet Firewalls -- but there are many
other reasons for non-alphabetical orderings (the lab director or
principal investigator on a grant is often listed first, even if this
person contributed little to the project), and even in
descending-contribution orderings the difference between the
contributions can be pretty slight.  (i've come to regret the ordering
Zwicky-Pullum that appears on some of our joint works, since it
suggests that my part was *much* more important than geoff's.  if you
stick to alphabetical ordering, no such ranking is implicated.)

surely reviewers for CHOICE should understand that you can't conclude
much from the ordering of names, and even if a reviewer is ignorant,
copy editors should have caught the error and fixed it.

arnold (zwicky at, at the end even in the American
   article by Zwicky & Zwicky -- Ann D. Zwicky & Arnold M. Zwicky

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