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Mental Floss Presents Condensed Knowledge: A Deliciously Irreverent Guide to Feeling Smart Again Paperback – April 27, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: HarperResource; Fifth or Later Edition edition (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060568062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060568061
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A lot like that professor of your who peppered his tests with raunchy jokes: it makes learning fun.” (Newsweek)

“A delightfully eccentric and eclectic new magazine.” (Washington Post)

“Part scholarly journal, part Spy magazine protégé.” (Charlotte Observer)

“For the discerning intellect, Mental Floss cleans out the cobwebs.” (Chicago Tribune)

“The titans of trivia.” (Newsweek)

“An ideal reference to settle arguments or jog your memory.” (Calgary Herald)

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Customer Reviews

The book is great if you seek to enrich your knowledge with fun trivia facts.
Inna
All in all, there is really nothing but positive things I can say about this book.
Mark
Initially, this book was a fun read on many topics that were very interesting.
Chris Pascale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Mark #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is such a fun read, even those who don't crave random trivia can enjoy it! It has so much information, and yet is so organized that you can actually find the information! While I don't subscribe to this magazine, reading this book will make anybody consider getting a subscription. All in all, there is really nothing but positive things I can say about this book.

Several reviewers have criticized some of the ways information is presented in this book for the sake of political correctness, as well as some of the opinions about works discussed. I think all the reviewers of this book make valid points. Everybody knows what AD and BC mean, there's really no reason at this point to reinvent the wheel.

The section on Art included a few prickly elements for me. I personally was annoyed by some of the superlatives used to describe many of the artists. The section on seeming like you know what you're talking about at an art exhibit is so funny, however, that it totally makes up for it. :) In all fairness, art is one of the hardest things to write about clearly since it's so personal for whoever is viewing it. Look up the artists listed so that you can see some of the pictures yourself and make up your own mind!

Those small picadillos aside, there's sooo much to enjoy here that the good far outweighs the bad. The sections are well organized, and the authors do a great job of bringing historical figures to life with great stories.

Many trivia books can be read for about an hour at a time. This is a trivia book that can be read for hours on end and still not make you feel overloaded. The bite-size bits of info are easy for anybody to swallow!

All in all, I HIGHLY recommend this book. If it were possible to give it 6 stars I would! Buy it, Read it, ENJOY IT!
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385 of 439 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 4, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I subscribe to "Mental Floss" and have since the first issue. I love it and couldn't wait to buy this book. Largely, I was very pleased with the book. I particularly like the way the book is broken down into major subjects like "Condensed Art History" and "Condensed Physics". I especially enjoyed the science sections and the "Condensed Pop Culture" chapter. I was particularly impressed with the analysis of the confusing lyrics in Steve Miller's "The Joker" (yes the line actually IS "Some people call me Maurice, 'cuz I speak of the pompatus of love.") The solving of this mystery alone is worth the price of the book.
I really sat on the fence on whether to give the book four or five stars. I would give it 4 1/2 if that were an option, but there were a few little thing about the book that bugged me enough to prevent a five star review (although I do give the magazine five stars.) The first (minor) error I noticed is in the chapter "Condensed General Science" under "Sexy Animal Facts", where the author states that "A goldfish has a memory span of only three seconds". I hold a degree in Biology, and can categorically say that is untrue. This is an urban legend and supposition, which has been disproved in several studies in animal behavior in which goldfish were taught to swim in elaborate mazes over the span of several days. If they only had a three second memory, they would be unable to complete the maze correctly with ever improving times day after day (which shows that learning occurs.) The television show 'Mythbusters' did a primitive version of one of these studies on one show, by the way. This isn't a big point, but is worth noting.
I object to the politically correct use of the terms of 'BC' and 'BCE' instead of 'BC' and 'AD'.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Brian Michalowski on October 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
I agree with all of the other reviewers that this book is fantastically entertaining. Just the title of the "4 Things Your Boss Has in Common With Slime Mold" section is worth the price of this book.

The big disappointment is that some of the "facts" are flat-out wrong. A section on antibiotics claims, "bacteria are at the root of diseases ranging from colds to tetanus," when colds are caused by rhinoviruses and do not respond to antibiotics. Another section claims, "A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds," an urban legend which has been disproved many times over. My personal impression of the book (others will probably disagree) is that it contains a bunch of facts that the authors rattled off the tops of their heads instead of researching to any degree.

So, read the book in good fun, and if you're going to use its contents to show off how smart you are, find another source to back you up first.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John Woodson on April 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Best non-fiction book I've seen in years. It's a $25 book for $15 (or $10 from Amazon), chock full of words and not silly black-and-white graphics. It covers almost EVERYTHING... art, music, science, literature, pop culture, philosophy, religion, economics, and more. No political junk, no cosmic overtones, just a bunch of fun, irreverent lists about things you should've learned at some point. I love reference books, and the only thing I love more than reference books are reference books that you can really pick up and READ as opposed to just skimming over. This is a perfect example of that.
I've subscribed to the magazine (mental_floss) for two years now, and it was a long wait for this book to come out. But it was well worth it. The book also offers a $5 discount on a subscription to the magazine (cheaper than the going rate) so it costs even less when you take that into consideration. While mental_floss is bimonthly, this'll help fill the time waiting for the next issue to come.
The last time I paid $15 for something as entertaining and educational as this was in Las Vegas in 1971. Shameful, I know.
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