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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2012
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
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
on December 15, 2013
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
on May 23, 2012
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
on November 16, 2012
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
on April 18, 2013
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
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
on July 12, 2014
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
I bought this New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge for my husband for Christmas; he is interested in everything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2014
This is a kind of book that I would definitely put on my study table for a quick reference of facts (hence the subtitles) on nearly every major topics in human endeavor. A very useful one although as other reviewer had pointed out, it'll be nice if its come with "one of those long, thin, red fabric bookmarks sewn into the binding".
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