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An Incomplete Education, 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned But probably Didn't Paperback – 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 699 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Third Edition edition (2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739475827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739475829
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.3 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be entirely unlike what I expected. I was hoping for a book that gives snippets of information that adults could use in everyday life but are missing, regarding issues such as grammar, etiquette, law, and so forth. That is not what this book deals with.

Laid forth are the histories of various fields, with respect to the creators, movers, and shakers of the classics and masterpieces. While there is some trivia as such, what you learn from this book is not only how things such as economics, popular music, literature, etc., got started, but the major courses they traversed, i.e., WHY THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY ARE TODAY.

This book won't give you much to boast about at a cocktail party, but will give you an overall understanding of the state of the arts, politics, and the rest of the world in general, which may be of more use than what I had intended on buying in the first place.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Have you longed to be able to pick up a reference book for an instant, uncomplicated answer to that vexing question Do you shrink from discussing such topics as why all of Shakespeare's comedies are not "thigh slappers"? Or maybe you caught yourself referring to Evelyn Waugh as "she".

An Incomplete Education is just the sort of book that provides a framework in twelve areas of knowledge including the Arts, Philosophy, Political Science, World History, Music and much more. The original edition was published in 1987; the third updated and expanded edition came out in 2006. It's a book of knowledge that is also very well paced and entertaining. For example, in the literature section, they identify "twelve fictional characters with whom you should have at least a nodding acquaintance"; in political science: "What you need to know before answering a personals ad in the International Herald Tribune".

According to authors Judy Jones and William Wilson, "In a world of bits and bytes, of reruns and fast forwards, of information overloads , . . it feels good to be grounded."

Clearly, this is not a COMPLETE Education. To wit: the title. After all, how would anyone define what might be a COMPLETE education. Rather, the book is a useful volume which helped me to organize my thinking. It is a companion that sits on my bookshelf "at the ready" when questions arise, (what do I really understand about the difference between Shiites and Sunnis) or when a Lexicon is needed to settle the question of whether continual or continuous is the appropriate word. It is a great addition to anyone's library, or a gift for someone who asks a lot of questions. I found myself savoring--and chuckling over-- each section.
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Format: Hardcover
I had given this book 4 stars in an earlier review, but AFTER READING OTHER REVIEWER'S COMMENTS (below) I am upgrading my rating to 5 STARS !!

I think that people need to read the book's introduction to see what the book is SUPPOSED to do before they slam it.

No, the book isn't going to be exhaustive or complete. How can it be? It's only one book and it's not even that thick!

The idea is just to learn enough of someone else's subject so you can navigate and know what they are talking about. You will need to read about it in more detail elsewhere, but at least this book will help you get started.

I did not find any SIGNIFICANT factual errors in the book. Perhaps in a book that attempts to cover all knowledge of the known (and unknown) world there might be an itty bitty error here or there, but I did not notice any. One assumes the authors used appropriate consultants for certain subjects. In the subjects that I am trained in, there were no errors.

Also, I did not find the authors to be condescending, nor did the humor interfere with my learning. In fact, my enjoyment and learning were increased.

That said, I would have to agree that completely serious, humorless people will not be happy with this book.
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Format: Hardcover
People who pan this book can't seem to grasp the fact that a reference book doesn't have to be dry and boring to be informative. Not only does this book provide a wealth of information about everything from chemistry to classical music, it is also laugh-out-loud funny!

I bought the first edition of this book years ago, and I still refer back to it often for the simple joy of reading it. I learn something new every time I pick it up.

Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
This is my favorite book. I am so looking forward to the update. The best way to read this book is to know just a little bit about a subject then use it to fill the gap. It is not detailed but just enough that you get the "gist" of things.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The physical book is wonderful and I recommend it. My rating specifically applies to the Kindle version, which has many mismatched photos and captions. For example, the caption "Washington Irving's house" appears beneath a picture of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Ridiculous.
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Format: Hardcover
american studies, art history, economics, film, literature, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, science and world history. quite a menu for the brain to bang up against. obviously you're not going to consume this in a day or two, but don't worry: it's all here to dip into anytime you want. the writing is lively and enjoyable (and opinionated in more than one spot), and the organization is fine. a great bedside book, coffee-table book, or gift. this is a fun book that i highly recommend to anyone who wishes to swell up the brain with a lot of knowledge.
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