Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of the Fungi (9th edition) edited by P. M. Kirk, P. F. Cannon , J. C. David and J. A. Stalpers (2001) Pp. 655. ISBN 0-85199-377-X (Hard cover). CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK. Price £49.95; US$90.
The Dictionary of the Fungi is surely one of the most indispensable of all mycological publications – every student of the fungi should own, or have access to, a copy of the most recent edition. This 9th edition is a worthy scion of the line, and contains a wealth of up-to-date information, much of which can otherwise be found only if one has access to a huge spectrum of publications. Its compilation must have been a daunting task, even for four editors, and even given the background material provided by the previous edition. It is a work of considerable scholarship, and its editors have done a great service to mycology, despite some accusations of incompleteness that can be levelled against it. The first thing that a reviewer must admit is that one cannot possibly keep abreast of all the advances being made in mycological knowledge. This review is, therefore, bound to reflect personal interests (relatively broad as these may be) and prejudices (narrow as they may be). Clearly, it would be impossible to work one's way conscientiously from A to Z in any reasonable time frame. The alternative, which has been adopted, is to do a large number of quick scans and spot checks. My criticisms and recommendations are bound to be different from anyone else's. I hope, however, that they will provide useful indications of the strengths and weaknesses of the book.