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A World of Curiosities: Surprising, Interesting, and Downright Unbelievable Facts from Every Nation on t he Planet (Who or Why or Which or What?) Paperback – April 24, 2012
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—Don Voorhees, author of The Book of Totally Useless Information
“An absolute winner! A fascinating and entertaining spin around the world, its oddities and its secrets.”
—Noel Botham, author of The Book of Useless Information
“Jam-packed with facts of every description from the horrific to the hilarious. My life has been richer since I read that, in order to cram more showings into the day, one cinema in South Korea made The Sound of Music shorter by cutting out the songs.”
—Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Imagine my surprise then, when I warily stole a peek inside the covers of John Aldale's gazetteer. In decades of avid - nay, compulsive - immersion in reference works dating back three centuries I do not recall having come across a tome remotely similar to this concoction! The author being an adventurer and globe-trotting traveller in the Lawrence of Arabia mold may have something to do with it.
The gazetteer's design is traditional: the countries of the world are arranged alphabetically. But here all resemblance to any geographical dictionary you have ever beheld ends.
Each country has its name written in English and in its own script. This nod to local civilization is followed by a joyous, riotous, and unrestrained train of historical, cultural, social, and political associations, a veritable and delectable cornucopia of anecdotes, facts, factoids, quotes, myths, curiosities, and oddities. It feels like rummaging through an inordinately mysterious and endowed attic in a manor that's 5000 years old. The entire ensemble is handsomely illustrated with photos, diagrams, charts, and drawings.
Two countries I know well and first-hand are Israel and Macedonia. I used these polities to test the validity and relevance of the book's contents.
I was surprised by the author's choice to dedicate a mere 2 pages to Israel, the cradle of all Western and Middle-Eastern religions, and the target of conquering armies from the Babylonians to the Crusades. In comparison, Italy got 5 pages.Read more ›
"Curiosities" is exactly what the title says. The book is completely and wonderfully overstuffed to deliver a 360º reading experience in grey scale block printing on Farmer's Almanac-like paper. It is an information-compendium of curiosities, organized by every country on the planet and utterly fascinating. Here you can find such data as the genetic mutation of 'blondes' from out of Scandinavia or the organizational structure of the Chinese Triads or Global Domination-Best efforts to date by conqueror, populations and land mass ... and 300 more pages of similar data. Oldale organizes his indefatigable flow of facts in an eccentric, beguiling way that reveals as much about his own affections as his selected subjects.
5-Star amazing! This a priority gift to just the right person.
My only complaint is that I think the book could have been more democratic in terms of page space. The majority of countries got one page, but some got three or four, and in some cases he crammed several countries (almost all the Pacific island nations, for example, like Kiribati and Micronesia) into one or two pages. It would have been nice if each country got equal coverage. I understand that, say, Vanuatu is not as significant as Japan or the United States, but surely Oldale could have come up with enough facts about it to cover a single page.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My 14-year-old son is really enjoying this book. He loves trivia and odd facts and this is perfect as he is studying world geography this year.Published 6 months ago by D. Greco
Decent bathroom book. Worth skimming, but not really worth "reading." What the author did best was peruse thousands of Wikipedia pages and gather up the interesting bits. Read morePublished 22 months ago by JJ Charles
Thanks - it came before Christmas - so I was able to wrap it and sneak it under the tree.Published on January 5, 2013 by firstname.lastname@example.org