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Encyclopedia of Urban Legends Paperback – November 17, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (November 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393323587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393323580
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up-A definitive and entertaining look at widely recognized tales told primarily in the U.S. In his preface and introduction, Brunvand explains the topic's provenance from a scholarly perspective, making this an ideal resource for a creative school report. Readers will learn about the "The Hook," "The Baby-sitter and the Man Upstairs," and other modern urban legends that they may have missed hearing or reading on the Internet ("The Madalyn Murray O'Hair Petition"). The entries are mostly arranged alphabetically by title; some are found under their subject or geographical location of origin. Many have useful cross-references. In a few paragraphs, each story is related and placed in proper historical context. The author recognizes the role of such legends in popular culture and how they change over time and telling. Articles on broad themes (e.g., "Military Legends," "Animals in Urban Legends") are featured throughout. Occasional black-and-white cartoon drawings illustrate the book. A fascinating and trustworthy purchase.
Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Did you hear that Indiana University's library in Bloomington is sinking? This story which regularly evokes needless concern among university alumni is only one of thousands of urban legends that circulate in popular culture and especially on the Internet. Compiled by the foremost authority on this form of contemporary folklore, this unique encylopedia includes hundreds of such stories from published sources and oral tradition. Brunvand claims that only urban legends told in the United States are "covered comprehensively," but he does include four European versions in their original language. Each entry contains source citations (excluding popular and undocumented sources), but the selected bibliography covers a range of both scholarly and popular works. Alphabetically arranged, the entries cover individual legends ("Hairy-Armed Hitchhiker," "Procter and Gamble Trademark," etc.) and legend themes (babies, technical incompetence, etc.). Unfortunately, an inadequate index detracts from an otherwise superb reference work. Delightful for browsing by general readers, this work is also a fine source for folklore students and researchers. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries Donald Altschiller, Boston Univ. Libs.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you're interested in urban legends from a folklore standpoint, a research standpoint, or just a fan then you will appreciate this book. It is the most complete reference I have seen. Details of stories, their comparison with other stories, common stories from other parts of the world, and clear explanations. Brunvand has a knack for making it all understandable and avoids being dry and lecturing. For the stories themselves you would want to see his many other collections; for research and reference you can not do without this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Bertha on March 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
I decided to pick up this book because I have always had a mild interest in urban legends. This book is well organized from A-Z. It contains several hundred urban legends within the pages. I was quite surprised about how several different urban legends blend together.
The author dictates when the legend started and where it began. If you have any interest in urban legends then I would recommend this book. I was suprised at how many urban legends are documented and told.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 2001
Format: Library Binding
If you are thinking for a urban legends book,this is the one you want. Has all the legands you can think of in it. From famuos ones to ones you have never heard of.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven O. on February 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an authoritative reference, but it's a highly readable one. I appreciate the author's rigorous research into the truth or falsity of each legend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bernie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2010
Format: Library Binding
This book is what its title implies, "Encyclopedia of Urban Legends." The is an attempt to alphabetize the legions by title, however there is no good way to alphabetize them or any order to read them in. so I suggest after a few random reads to just start front to back. Each entry is sort of annotated and referenced. Many times the annotation helps yet occasionally it just distracts and would have been better off to just tell the story and move on. Some of the entries have handwritten graphics. In the back there is an index that tries to organize the stories.

Do not forget to look for your personal favorite from childhood.

I do find myself repeating some of the legends to others. You can get some of the weirdest looks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brad Molder on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
I use this book when I want to teach students about folklore as they all know one urban legend or another. Good examples from the book plus Brunvand's expertise on folklore make for a clear explanation and vivid examples of this medium.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SlimyboyDave on October 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the ultimate book on Urban Legends and Jan Harold Brunvand is a mastermind on Urban Legends, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in folklore and Mythology. Awesome Book !!!
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By Bobby on December 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've always been an Urban Legends fan, and throughout the years I've read quite a few books on them; this is one of the better ones.
This book contains at least 400 Urban Legends, and the book is pretty thick at over 500 pages. Usually in these books we just get the basic rundown of the stories, but here we get an author who clearly knows what he's talking about, and we get quite a bit of information on folklore in general. People who are looking for a great reference on the subject will definitly want to pick this up.
It would've been nice if some of the stories were a bit longer however (most stories run about a paragraph to a page), and the book can get a little teachy at times. Some sections of the book can get a bit slow, and alot of readers will probably skip over parts to get to the stories.
Overall though; it's terrific!

Keep in mind that some of the stories (though untrue) are disturbing, and some do have a fair share of sexual content. Just a heads up if you're buying for a gift, or don't know anything about Urban Legends in general.

Worth a buy for those looking for a good book on the subject.
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