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What are the Seven Wonders of the World?: And 100 Other Great Cultural Lists--Fully Explicated Paperback – December 1, 1998
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The elemental secret of their innovative table of contents is the use of numbers. Starting with three and working their way up (with a gap here and there) to 24, they pose a series of intriguing questions which are then answered to everyone's satisfaction on the indicated pages. What are the three Laws of Thermodynamics? Who were the three Furies? and What are the three ages of Vico's historical cycle? These are the sorts of queries they present in the chapter entitled Three. Further chapters inquire after the four properties of a musical tone, the six flavors of quarks, the seven Virtues, the 12 Labors of Heracles, the 14 Points of Woodrow Wilson, and the unofficial Homeric titles of the 18 chapters of Ulysses.
While the questions are appealing in and of themselves, the answers are even better. Going far beyond mere lists, they delve into the histories and texts, the theories and significance of each. The question is the hook, but the answer is the prize, riveting you with more information than you'd anticipated, reminding you of the joy of learning. --Stephanie Gold
--Christie Hall Apicella, Bas Bleu
Do you want to be a genius? Step one is to read this collection. . . This book is a tour de force, one that every home will require . . . to settle domestic squabbles over who's right. --Sandra Murphy, The Irish News
... highly informative catalog of 100 of the greatest cultural and historical lists of all time--along with all the background stories. --Book of the Month Club
This challenging, yet entertaining book acquaints the reader with vast amounts of information on literature, mythology, religion, art, music, and yes--science. --Newsletter of the National Association of Science Writers
A sheer delight.... It is the quality of the writing--the style, the organization, the information included--that makes this book such a pleasure. --The Smoky Mountain News
Top Customer Reviews
Chapters are: Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Eighteen, Twenty and Twenty-Four. What makes the book more than just a quiz generator is the lengthy explanatory text, anywhere from three to eighteen pages. These pithy essays entertain and inform, and add greatly to the volume's enjoyment. Some questions are really obscure -- what were the five rivers of the classical underworld, anyway? -- but even the easier ones can leave you scratching your head and cursing your memory. Didn't I used to know all this stuff? Then, after you knock yourself on the head and shout "Of course!", you will have the pleasure of reading a well-written essay by a co-author or one of a small number of contributors.
There is also a fourteen page suggested reading list, organized by subject, that includes music and URLs. Rounded out with a good index, this is very nicely done and lots of fun.
In addition, the book does have a few weakness. First, there is the unavoidable one of the selection of questions. Depending on your tastes, some questions will likely be less interesting than others. Also, the authors have the occasional tendency to throw in a judgement with their answers which can rankle, especially in the religious realm. Finally, there is the feeling that some of the questions are a bit of a stretch, shaped to fit the format the authors have chosen.
Still, I don't get the sense that the book is meant to be a reference work. It is meant to be an engaging exploration of a potpourri of interesting questions. In that respect, it works quite well.
Each question is well-organized according to the number of items in its answer, which can vary from three (Who where the 3 Magi, and what gifts did they bring?) to twenty-four (What are the 24 letter of the ancient Greek alphabet?).
Each precise answer, instead of giving a mere list, is accompanied by an engrossing essay that places the list in its cultural and historical context and details some well-researched facts about it that aid our understanding of its meaning.
As a bonus, for those interested in doing further research in a specific topic, the book offers a list of suggested reading, which includes books as well as Web site addresses. A very thorough index is also offered for those interested in looking for a particular subject.
Overall, this is a practical, charming and pleasurable reference to either consult or flip through, recommended for readers of all ages eager to explore our culture's most captivating lists, series and hierarchies.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
But don't get me wrong. This book is FUN too. Horace put it best: An effective writer will mix the practical with the pleasurable ("utile dulci"), and entertain the reader at the same time he instructs. D'Epiro and Pinkowish do just that.
If you know a lot about history, literature, or art, check this book out. If you don't, check it out too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I currently own 3 copies so I can always have one on hand. Excellent choice for learned league, quizbowl, or trivia aficionados! Trivia geeks, rejoice!Published 3 months ago by Pingo
The primary question I asked myself when buying this was that what could I get from this book that I couldn't get from searching things on the internet? Read morePublished 19 months ago by Neel
I ended up donating this book, it wasn't what I expected. fast shipping, and a great price.Published 19 months ago by Dawn C.
I love this book. It contains short, succinct explanations for questions about topics that you may have missed in your formal education. Read morePublished on October 18, 2012 by joey
The title of this book does not do it justice. Something more along the lines of "Stuff you wish you had learned in school, or wish you still remembered, explicated in a writing... Read morePublished on August 11, 2011 by bearieq
This book presents dozens of «cultural lists», organized not by subject but by the number of elements in the list. Read morePublished on July 22, 2009 by Pierre Gauthier
Kind of neat, brush up on what you were 'supposed' to learn back in high school. Information packed and told in a manner that'd keep your ADD kid interested, this book is a... Read morePublished on March 27, 2009 by Cherrie Mahon
For those in the world who feel like they don't know nearly enough "stuff" (or all purpose knowledge, not specific to any one subject, like literature or history or science... Read morePublished on December 16, 2007 by Biblibio