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The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind 3rd Edition

36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312643027
ISBN-10: 0312643020
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Frequently Bought Together

The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind + The New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything, Second Edition: The Essential Companion for Everyday Life + The New York Times Presents Smarter by Sunday: 52 Weekends of Essential Knowledge for the Curious Mind
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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.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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1376 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 3 edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312643020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312643027
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 2.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Michael on August 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It seems like a lot of reviewers here haven't gotten the point. This book is:

- NOT a reference to look things up in (that's what Google and Wikipedia are for)
- NOT a completely comprehensive guide to subject X (it's already 1300+ pages, how much more do you want?!)
- NOT 100% perfect in every single detail, number, spelling, list inclusion, etc.
- NOT perfectly balanced in how many inches are given to one type of literature vs another, etc.

So if you're looking for any of those, this is NOT the book.

What the book IS (besides being really heavy), is a fantastic overview of human knowledge in general, to read gradually from cover to cover (or at random) over a year or two. In a lot of senses, it's what high school and college should have taught us all, but never did. If you're a person curious about the world, this book is a great starting point to see what kind of knowledge you've missed in your life up until now. And then, whatever you're more curious about, you can buy more books on that.

I personally have started reading a section every morning at breakfast. A friend of mine listens to a TED Talk every morning on the way to work. I think they're comparable experiences, and both great, intellectually stimulating ways to start the day.

Some people have read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z. You can read this in a lot less time, and probably walk away remembering almost the same amount of material.

Nitpick: why doesn't it come with one of those long, thin, red fabric bookmarks sewn into the binding? If any book ever needed one, this one does.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Maxim St. Pierre on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is pretty good but man, I've been reading parts of it for the past week and have found dozens of typographical errors. I understand it's a long book, but that's not really an excuse. It's frustrating to think that the editors of this apparently do not know how to spell the word "siege" correctly, among other things.

At $24, this book is a good deal. It covers a ton of ground but doesn't go into much detail. If you really want to know about, say, the French Revolution, you're going to have to do some deeper digging. But at 1400 pages it covers more than most people would ever care to delve into and can give you a general base of knowledge for a lot of things.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jack11615 on December 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I almost didn’t buy this book because someone complained that its contents are not indexed and can’t be used for quick lookup. Actually Kindle’s search engine instantly finds what you want, along with interesting correlations and cross-references that you might not have expected. Discussions are clear, concise, reasonably detailed. Access is faster and easier than with a Kindle web search (which can be a second step when more depth is needed). I think this is good value for money.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Brenda22101 on May 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I bought the Kindle edition, and discovered too late that it is not indexed. This means that it is not searchable at all. You can select broad topic/chapter headings ("modern art") but cannot get any closer to a specific subject without reading the entire article. As a quick reference, this makes it almost useless. Very disappointing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BJ Neblett on November 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am naturally curious about things... most everything. As an author I need to know and understand about many different things, sometimes even things i didn't know existed. This is one of my 'go to' books when I need to understand something better, have written myself into a corner, or even when i just want to know something my friends don't know. A must for every desk. Read it through, or just as needed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert N. Bland on April 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this title (KIndle version) thinking it would be along the lines of the classic Columbia Desk Encyclopedia. It consists rather of a series of fairly lengthy essays on a variety of broad topics pretty much covering the gamut of human knowledge in of course a very general way. The essays seem well researched in most cases and will provide a reliable introduction to fields a reader is not familiar with. The lack of a fast, indexed searched to specific topics or keywords, however, limits its usefulness as a quick reference source. Searching for keywords seems to be brute force as my Kindle Fire plows through the entire text, which can take an unduly long time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By AzureDragon on April 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Now it's 2014 and the 3rd edition is two years ago. Wondering if I should wait some more months for the 4th or if it's coming at all? I am thinking about buying the 3rd edition now. I enjoy reading the book I have read many sections already and want to possess one at home. Any answers please? Thanks
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jane on July 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everyone should have this. It is beyond a simple "coffee table" book. It addresses just about any and all topic, event (historical or current) in our world. From sports to science, mythology to medicine, finance to Finland, history to hymns, it truly is the book to have and to give. I have the first version, gave my dad this new version, and will now get it for myself.
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