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The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge, Second Edition: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind Hardcover – October 30, 2007


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The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge, Second Edition: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind + An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1328 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 2nd edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376598
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.8 x 2.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This widely expanded update to the original 2004 edition defines nearly every facet of contemporary life—from arts, grammar, mythology and culture to science, economics, and geopolitical issues. Though bearing an authority and informational wealth that might rival the voluminous Oxford Dictionary of English, this surprisingly manageable volume is organized alphabetically by subject and contains thousands of highly accessible essays, tables, and lists, all composed by New York Times field experts. It also includes an introduction by longtime "On Language" columnist and Pultizer Prize winner William Safire. An essential background referenec for almost every subject: highly recommended for all public libraries."—Library Journal
 
"I wish I'd had this book 25 years ago. It is certain to become an indispensable tool for fact fanatics."—Bill Bryson, author of A Short History of Nearly Everything

"In short, this is the largest, most up-to-date and affordable one volume desk reference available today and is an absolute must for every home, dorm room and library."—Tucson Citizen

About the Author

The New York Times is a daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed internationally. Founded in 1851, the newspaper has won 95 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Self Helper on November 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In response to the previous post: I would not feel alarmed about the missing information. I am certain hundreds of people were contributing to book. An omission in the history department would not likely affect other sections. One book will never be able to capture everything considered "essential". Essential for an American is not essential for, say, a European. No single book will make you "essentially informed".

I found the depth of this knowledge to be just right, though. I don't care to shine on Jeopardy. My goal is to become aware without getting too deeply into it unless I am really passionate about a particular subject.

Sure, some stuff is missing, but, what is there is PLENTY. For example: we all heard about Sunni and Shiites Islaam, but I doubt many, including, and especially, George Bush know the difference. How many of Seven Wonders of the World can you name? Do you know who Pygmalion was? Did you know television was invented in 1927? Did you know that America has the highest rate of STD's of all industrial nations? Do you know why? Do you care? If the examples did not evoke some sort of curiosity, this book, in all likelihood, will seem useless to you. But if you found that your brain lit up with tingly wonder, this book would probably be a good place to start.

On the negative side, truthfully, there is nothing unique or incredible about this book that sets it apart from others, maybe a little heavier. It's just like any other almanacs published every year by New York Times. It's just another information-filled book, not better or worse....
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The problem with a book like this is the difficult tradeoff between completeness and brevity, and accessibility. Obviously in a one volume format, no matter how weighty (and this one is 1300 pages), something has to be left out. But it's a problem that this book handles quite well.

Rather than carp on what's missing in a book like this, like some of the reviews here, look at what's included instead, and there's plenty to keep you occupied there, no matter what your interests are. If you're interested in more complete coverage, my advice there is to buy one of the one or two volume encyclopedias, such as the Oxford Concise Encyclopedia from Oxford University Press or the Britannica Ready Reference. These are even more ponderous and complete but are less approachable and readable since the technical level is higher.

So don't be too critical of a volume like this, which attempts to steer a middle ground. It's still an enjoyable read, and worth your time and money. Also, I say this as someone who regularly reads both the short and long versions of several 'pedias and knows their pros and cons. For me this is something I would use as enjoyable bedtime reading when I don't have the stamina or attention span to brave another formidable Britannica article, or even The World Book, which traditionally was somewhat more readable, although the Britannica has resolved that issue now with the three levels of writing difficulty in the new electronic DVD version.

But getting back to the present volume, overall, a nice job and informative and enjoyable to read.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joseph A. Guarise on March 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The essential book of knowlege is an easy reference book and jam backed with useful information. It can answer those quirky questions that you forgot the answers to quickly and easily. When was the last time you read the Declaration of Independence? What are those wine regions in France? How do I correctly punctuate this sentence? Faster than the internet.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Justin B. Dossey on March 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book doesn't cover everything, but it's a great start toward in-depth study of the world around us. I wouldn't view it as the alpha and omega of reference books, but each section inspires the reader to do outside reading. Take a year or so to go through it and you'll come out with a well-rounded and broad perspective-- and you'll be pretty good at Jeopardy! too :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BookKid on June 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book has been a lot of fun and has me reading about things that I wouldn't normally pick up a whole book on. Instead I get some solid information and it has prompted me to check out other topics in more detail. For example, it starts with a great introduction to architecture. I have been looking online and in other books to learn more about Gothic architecture which is something I wouldn't have done before. Obviously it can't cover everything but it is worth the time if you are interested in learning new things, expanding your education to fill some of the holes left from school etc.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Justin Clarence on October 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book - captivating reading - amazing that one book can cover such a vast array of interesting info!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shirman on May 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just can't get enough of this book! I have been reading this daily, for a couple of
weeks and I can't believe the amount of information I was able to grasp. Sure, all the
information is available on the web but I was looking for a book that would give a
'big picture' or a 'bird's eye- view' of important events and topics and this book
fit the bill perfectly.

I use it as a starting point along withThe New York Times Presents Smarter by Sunday: 52 Weekends of Essential Knowledge for the Curious Mind. I then proceed to read about the same
topic on Wikipedia or an encyclopedia like Encarta/Britannica. You could even try doing these
side by side.

My pursuit of knowledge has begun! And, I am loving it!

Cheers!
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