157 of 185 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2004
If you're looking for earth-shattering news, this is not the book for you. While there were a couple of eye openers, most of the information is well known if you've kept up on current events.
Some information is noteworthy. The fact that people are killed or injured from prescription medication is not news. Tragic? Yes, but it's not a secret. It is something that has been studied and needs to be addressed.
Some information is pointless. Carl Sagan was a pothead? Why am I not supposed to know that? More importantly, what's the significance of that? Drug and alcohol use is hardly a rarity among great thinkers.
Some information is questionable. Someone in the goverment considered biological warfare in Afghanistan? I'd be surprised if someone didn't at least think of that. Creativity is not bad in itself, but the execution of the idea may be. Considering that Rumsfeld and Rice put the kibosh on the idea, I'd say the government acted correctly, and thus, no shocker here.
There are definitely a few winners in here. Not a great book, but okay to have in the bathroom for some short reads.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2003
No, it's not a book that's majorly in-depth, and it won't reveal anything new to anyone at all seriously interested in things the mainstream media doesn't tend to tell us, because they'll know most of the facts already. But that isn't really the point of the book, is it? It's 50 things that most people - the most people who mostly get their information from the mainstream media, that most people - don't know about.
And some of them are pretty darn important. Like the US making plans to provoke terrorist attacks as part of the war on terrorism; juries right to judge the law, not just the fact; the obligation (or rather non-obligation) of the police; medical error and prescription drug death rates (amazingly high).
Other facts are more amusing and interesting than they are important, but even the entries that seemed rather obvious to me (the rather duh fact that advertisers exercise massive control over the media, for instance) contained interesting figures, facts and research.
If you've already read up on these kinds of topics, this book isn't going to add anything much to your knowledge. But it's a great little book to have sitting in your bathroom or on a table in a waiting room for other people to leaf through!
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2006
Russ Kick has written a fun little book that combines the "truthiness" of tabloid journalism with paranoid conspiracy theory in 50 little bite-size chunks. It's a blast to read if you don't take it too seriously.
Some of the "secrets" disclosed in Kick's book are pretty tame and obvious. For example, some African-Americans did indeed fight for the Confederacy in the Civil War. The Germans did use IBM computers to keep track of many concentration camp inmates. And of course, the government is known to lie, dissemble and distort the facts about just about anything when the political pressure is on.
On the other hand, Kick himself is way off base on several counts. His technique is pretty easy to decipher: Take a little known fact from the history books and blow it up into a massive "revelation" meant to shock and astound the reader. Examples include:
-- The police aren't legally obligated to protect you
-- The Supreme Court is wishy-washy on the use of illegal drugs
-- Many early feminists opposed abortion (for different reasons)
-- One of the Popes wrote an erotic book
-- Some environmentalists strongly support nuclear power
When you really dig into the details, you'll find that most of these claims either half-truths or overly inflated trivia. Nevertheless, "50 Things" is a great conversation starter and you can read the entire book in about an hour. Good for grins, if nothing else.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Russ Kick, 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know (disinfo,com, 2003)
Don't you love books like this? Their titles promise you the secrets of the universe (which universe, of course, depends on what you're reading into the title), but what they deliver is invariably not what you were looking for. Expect the same here.
When he's on his game, Kick does deliver some interesting and relatively obscure data to the reader. When he's not, which is unfortunately all too often, he hands us stuff that's been on at least a thousand trivia lists circling the internet at any given time. Combine this with Kick's obvious slant towards some of his subject matter, which is so predictable it's almost stereotypical, and you get a book that, despite its slimness, can be wearying at times.
Good to pick up and riffle through once in a while looking for something random. Not a keeper, though. ** ½
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I got this little book in a package of discount books I received a little while ago. I didn't know anything about it and I wasn't aware it was a sequel to another book I hadn't even read when I flipped through it and began reading. It turned out to be a fun way to spend an hour or so.
I like "trivia" books like this one. Of course, the conceit behind this one is that we're being told "things we're not supposed to know." Some of the claims made here are debatable but there are also many interesting items: ten percent of the population weren't fathered by the man they think is their father, fetuses masturbate, the Declaration of Independence contains a racially derogatory remark, Audubon killed all the birds he painted, etc.
The book fails a bit by a tendency towards repetition (especially in 9/11 & war in Iraq info) which makes it seem a bit padded. Maybe this is because it's hard to reach the same heights in a sequel but, since I haven't read the original, I can't judge. Still, there's enough good stuff here to make it worth the investment of the time it takes to read it.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2006
This 1/4" thick, 4x6 index card of a book touts itself as a "take-no-prisoners" exposé when it is, in fact, merely a collection of random "shocking" trivia. Sadly, the few real bombshells that the book DOES contain are overwhelmed by the hyperbolic tone of the rest.
Here are the bombshells, facts that might make us seriously re-evaluate our relationship with those in power:
- The US is Planning to Provoke Terrorist Attacks
- Kent State Wasn't the Only---or Even the First---Massacre of College Students During the Vietnam Era
- Juries are Allowed to Judge the Law, Not Just the Facts
- The Government Can Take Your House and Land, Then Sell Them to Private Corporations
- Prescription Drugs Kill Over 100,000 Annually
- Work Kills More People Than War
The quality of the other 44 topics ranges from moderately interesting yet trivial ("Adolf Hitler's Blood Relatives are Alive and Well in New York State" and "The Virginia Colonists Practiced Cannibalism") to no-brainers such as "Advertisers' Influence on the News Media is Widespread." There is no consistent theme linking the 50 disparate "things you're not supposed to know," other than the fact that they are "supposed" to be secrets, but that assertion is pure hyperbole. After all, all it takes to find out that the Korean War never ended, that nuclear war almost broke out in 1995, or that LSD was a used as a powerful adjunct to psychotherapy, is a glance at Wikipedia, hardly a repository of repressed esotericism.
This is a pretty good place to start learning "secret" information if you're still embedded in the indoctrination factory we call junior high or high school, and it admittedly makes for decent bathroom reading, but those interested in real bombshells would do well to look elsewhere.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I paid full retail for this "book" and when I got it, I was disappointed; it is more like a pamphlet! It's about 120 pages and the dimentions are 5" X 5". It's just tiny!!!! I know that the dimensions are listed in the product details portion of the ad, but who the hell reads that; I thought for $10 I would get a "real" book! I wouldn't pay more than two or three dollars for this book and it should be a lot less than that in my opinion. All of the information contained could be found on any "strange facts" web site.
29 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2006
While the book is amusing, I highly doubt it is based on fact. I am not arguing the entire book to be false, but I did research (ended up doing a paper on it for one of my college classes in fact) on the so-called real Ten Commandments.
Technically, Kick is correct. The "Ritual Commandments" he listed are labeled in the Bible as the Ten Commandments. However, if he had read any other part of the Bible he would have seen that this was the second list given to Moses; the first one being the "Ethical Commandments" which we are all familiar with. Both of these lists, among several other decrees, were equally important to the people.
Whenever referring back to the commandments, the ethical ones are always used. Plus, for Christians anyway, after Jesus all of the old laws were abolished. The Ethical Commandments were summed up in two laws: Love God and only God, and Love your neighbor as yourself.
It only took me 10 minutes to read part of Exodus and see he was twisting the truth. If he can get such an easily researchable topic wrong, then how am I to have faith in anything else he says?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is entitled _50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know_. It should be entitled _50 Quasi-interesting Factoids_. Nothing in here is mind blowing, or revolutionary, or scary: a Pope wrote an erotic book? Wow, now that's something to pull your hair out over--I think everyone wishes clergy would only write books and keep their hands to themselves. Jurors can question the law. Most people may not have known this, but knowing this makes no difference unless you broadcast it on TV; also, do we really want people who have a hard time sifting through the information presented to them regarding guilt or innocence also trying to figure out the validity of the law(s) involved? Eh, knowing this makes no difference. Electric cars have been around for a long time, umm, yep. Why am I not supposed to know this? You mean big business wants to keep making money selling gas and cars that use gas? Darn! I did not know this. The evil overlords have blinded me to their horrible ways; all this time I thought they had my interests at heart. Woe unto them. Anyway, this book has some interesting information, but it's not anything so interesting as to become a "thing you're not supposed to know." I should have bought a used copy. It's worth a read, it's just not all it's cracked up to be.
on June 5, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I thought this book, but it sounded interesting. The stories, whether they be fact or fiction, are all really interesting, and entertaining. I definitely want to do some post Reading research about what is fact and what is fiction from this book. Definitely worth a read!