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Don't Know Much About Geography: Everything You Need to Know About the World but Never Learned Paperback – July 27, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (July 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380713799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380713790
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

You might think you need to look at a map to learn "everything you need to know" about geography, but Kenneth C. Davis proves otherwise. In this hugely entertaining and informative program, Davis takes a different approach to learning about the world by pointing out its relevance--and importance--in every sphere of human life. Geography, Davis explains, has been sadly misunderstood, which accounts for the fact that Americans consistently score lowest among peoples of industrialized nations when it comes to "knowing where we are." He sets out to show listeners how this "mother lode of sciences, the hub of a circle from which all the other studies radiate" informs disciplines ranging from meteorology, climatology, and oceanography to economics, ecology, and political science. Rather than looking at geography as a parade of facts about where things are located, he encourages an approach that considers human and natural history in its larger context--and the universe as a large canvas upon which the fascinating story of life is drawn. Using his familiar question-and- answer method, Davis offers interesting anecdotes to explain, for example, who invented the compass; why wars are always fought over geography; the differences between country, republic, nation, and state; why the tallest mountain in the world is getting even taller; and much more. Succinct discussions coupled with Davis's lively writing style makes this a perfect candidate for audio presentation. Indeed, listening to this program without the aid of visuals underscores the sense conveyed that geography is as much about how we think about the world as where things are in physical space--that it is about the "tender connections that keep the earth alive." (Running time: three hours, two cassettes) --Uma Kukathas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This entertaining, copious guide should help to remedy American readers' lack of geographical literacy.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Kenneth C. Davis is the author of Don't Know Much About® History, which spent 35 consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, and gave rise to the Don't Know Much About® series, which has a combined in-print total of 4.3-million copies. Davis has been dubbed the "King of Knowing" by Amazon.com because he becomes a subject expert in all of the areas he writes about: the Bible, Mythology, snd the Civil War, for example, and his latest Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents. Davis's success aptly makes the case that Americans don't hate history, just the dull version they slept through in class. But many of them want to know now because their kids are asking them questions they can't answer. Davis's approach is to refresh us on the subjects we should have learned in school. He does it by busting myths, setting the record straight and always remembering that fun is not a four-word letter word. Kenneth C. Davis is a frequent media guest and has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including NPR, The Today Show, Fox and Friends, CNN, and The O'Reilly Factor. He has been a commentator for All Things Considered, and has written for the New York Times Op-Ed page, Smithsonian magazine and CNN,com and other national publications. In addition to his adult titles, he writes the Don't Know Much About Children's series published by HarperCollins. He lives in New York with his wife. They have two grown children.

Customer Reviews

This is an informative book.
Moon Gyu Han
The "facts" presented in such a book, however, should actually be factual.
Martin D. Peterson
Very entertaining and well written.
Eric Mascarin Perigault

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

178 of 182 people found the following review helpful By Robert Adler on July 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
I love the title and the idea of the book--a fun, accessible introduction to geography. And, the book accomplishes what it sets out to do, to a large extent. However, as I read it I kept being jarred by errors; not just typos or minor errors, but really big, sloppy mistakes. Here are a few of them (from the 1992 paperback):

Page 175: Since it takes the moon a little more than a day to orbit the Earth . . .

Wrong, and in a way that suggests the author really doesn't understand the Earth-Moon system.

Page 212: . . . the white marble lighthouse stood 440 feet (1234 meters) high . . .

Let's see, are meters longer than feet, or shorter than feet? Do we multiply or divide?

Page 275: . . . meteorites strike at tremendous speeds--as much as 90,000 miles per second.

Hmmm. That's about half the speed of light. I don't think so.

Page 289: The spiraling winds may reach from 9 to 24 miles (15 to 20 km) up into the atmosphere.

At least try to keep the numbers consistent.

Page 312: Pluto may actually belong to another solar system . . .

Then what is it doing orbiting the sun?

Etc., Etc., Etc.

It's a very good idea, but one that deserved a lot more care.

Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation; and Medical Firsts: From Hippocrates to the Human Genome.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Tim F. Martin on October 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
A pretty good introduction to a variety of topics in geography, geology, astronomy (generally as it relates to the earth), and history as well. In part, the book is fairly basic, addressing some basic topics such as what are continents, addressing if Columbus "discovered" America or not, what is a light year, and listing the world's largest seas for instance. Some commentators called the book remedial I see, and at times, yes, it can be. Many of the questions that are answered (the information in the book is generally presented as a particular question followed by several paragraphs to several pages of answers for each) can be high school or even middle school level (though not written at middle school level).
By and large though, I found the book a really neat read, covering a lot of topics. While it might have been nice if some questions were gone into in more depth, all in all the author, Kenneth C. Davis, is to be commended by his well-written answers to a variety of questions in world geography. To me, many topics that were addressed were not remedial at all. What do tides and tidal waves have to do with one another? Isn't Europe just part of Asia? Why is Australia a continent? Where was the Garden of Eden, or was there one? Why are there no deserts on the Equator? Why is the Black Sea called that? How did Africa come to be called the Dark Continent? Are there Canaries in the Canary Islands? What the heck is a Hoosier? I don't know about you, but I wasn't able to answer all those questions, and I was intrigued to read the interesting and well-written answers to these questions. If want some fun light reading in geography and history, bone up on your trivia for the next time you watch Jeopardy! or play Trivial Pursuit, or just want to impress your familiy and friends, this book is one to get.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By M. Greer on September 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I thought this book might be interesting for my class (I'm a Geography High school teacher). Now, I've read many a dull tome on Geography in my many years. At least they were informative, mistake free and educational. Unfortunately, I cannot say say the same for this drivel. Not only is it dumbed down but, it is still dry and boring. I was drifting off while reading it (and I love geography - can't get enough of it!). There are mistakes a plenty. Not only the ones mentioned before, but I found 'facts' cotradicting themselves in the same chapter. In short; dry, boring, mistake ridden and dated.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Superficial, trendy, politically correct, and shallow.
Presents many theories and personal opinions as fact. Misrepresents views of the scientific community regarding the issue of global warming.
For a book about geography, contains far fewer maps than would be expected.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My six year old and 11 year old fact nuts sat spellbound for an hour and a half as I read this book with them, and it kept my interest as well.

The fun but factual text is interspersed with cute cartoons that my six year old enjoyed, and which helped fix certain ideas in all of our memories.

The only drawback...they wouldn't let me stop reading it!

I can't wait to try out Don't Know Much About Geography.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Martin D. Peterson on February 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
I like the idea of a relatively easy, general-knowledge book about geography. The "facts" presented in such a book, however, should actually be factual. Throughout the reading of this book I was astonished by the number of mistakes concerning matters of common knowledge. The American Civil War started in 1861 not 1860 (page 242), and the Korean War started in 1950 not 1951 (page 261). My sister's birthday is July 20th, so I know Apollo 11 landed on the moon on that date, rather than on July 11th, as stated on page 324. It's not only a matter of erroneous dating. According to the author, Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, is cold (page 312)!!! With daytime temperatures as high as 800 degrees fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead, I guess one must be sure to pack warm clothes if planning a trip there. These are just some of the numerous examples of mistakes in a book that was clearly very poorly researched and written. The title is appropriate, in that Mr. Davis certainly does not know much about geography.
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