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The Yale Book of Quotations Hardcover – October 30, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

To paraphrase Ira Gershwin, "on every [page] that you turn you meet a notable with a statement that is eminently quotable" in this collection. According to editor Shapiro, this is "the first quotation book to be compiled using state-of-the-art research methods to seek out quotations and to trace quotation sources." He compares his approach with that of the Oxford English Dictionary: he, too, traces words back to their earliest possible usages. Using a variety of electronic sources, such as JSTOR, LexisNexis, ProQuest Historical Newspapers, andTimes Digital Archive, scores of quotations were verified, and in many cases reverified. The more than 12,000 quotations collected here span a wide array of subjects, from literature, philosophy, and history to science, business, and politics.

Quotations are presented alphabetically by the name of the author or speaker. Shakespeare and the Bible, the mother lodes of quotations, are amply represented, but emphasis is on "modern and American materials." Children's authors, who are often ignored in other dictionaries, are quoted here. There are a number of special sections devoted to particular types of quotations, among them advertising slogans, ballads, film lines, political slogans, and radio and television catchphrases. Song lyrics are entered by the name of the composer, and film lines appear either under the film title in the special section devoted to movie lines or, if they originated in a book or play upon which the film was based, under the author of that literary source. Proverbs span the centuries and often include evidence of a saying's first print appearance. A keyword index, an essential element of any quotation dictionary, rounds out the text.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (17th ed., Little, Brown, 2002) has around 25,000 quotations, and Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (6th ed., 2004) has more than 20,000. Although the Yale dictionary is smaller, readers may find it a richer source for familiar names, from Dr. Seuss to Donald Rumsfeld, and for special categories such as advertising slogans and film lines. Quotation dictionaries are an essential part of the reference collection, and this one, with its broad scope and meticulous attention to the origins of the material quoted, will enhance any collection, large or small. Carolyn Mulac
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Author

Browsing in The Yale Book of Quotations:
"Today I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
Lou Gehrig
"Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse."
Willard Motley
"Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger."
Friedrich Nietzsche
"We must love one another or die."
W. H. Auden
"Don't ask, don't tell."
Charles Moskos
"Showing up is 80 percent of life."
Woody Allen
"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?"
Langston Hughes
"Yes I said yes I will Yes."
James Joyce
"You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'"
George Bernard Shaw
"There is no there there."
Gertrude Stein
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."
Dwight Eisenhower


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1104 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; illustrated edition edition (October 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300107986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300107982
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By John Baker on November 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A good quotations collection will give the definitive wording of quotations, provide information as to the quotations' sources and eliminate spurious sources, and be interesting enough to read or browse in its own right, even when no particular quotation is sought. The Yale Book of Quotations does all of these things, and it does them better than its nearest competitors (Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations). The Yale Book of Quotations is the first new comprehensive collection in many years, and it has benefited from a rethinking of the quotations selected, the use of modern databases to track quotations back to their origins, and comparison with those original sources to assure accuracy.

The immediately noticeable difference is a selection that is more likely to appeal to a modern American audience. Bartlett's has pages of quotations from Dryden, most of which inspire neither recollection nor pleasant surprise. Yale has 12 quotations from Dryden, which is enough to include all the genuinely familiar Dryden quotations. On the other hand, Yale has 23 quotations from George W. Bush, many uttered after Bartlett's was last updated. Yale includes extensive selections of proverbs and sayings, political slogans, television catchphrases, and other familiar lines. In general, although Yale's use of literary quotations is comprehensive (there are, for example, 455 quotations from Shakespeare), the quotation selection tends to be relatively less literary and more inclined toward quotations of contemporary interest, particularly to Americans. It may be for this reason that, frankly, Yale is just a lot more fun to browse.
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Format: Hardcover
A copy of this handsome new volume was given to me for my eighty-first birthday, so, at that age having so little time to waste, I immediately set about to test this YBQ against my much older Bartlett's (1968 edition).

YBQ is certainly more fun. Harry S. Truman appears, of course, in both books, but it is the YBQ that quotes Harry's letter to Paul Hume: "I have just read your lousy review [of my daughter's concert] .... You sound like a frustrated old man who never made a success, an eight-ulcer man on a four-ulcer job..." No, nothing like that in good old Bartlett's.

YBQ has the wit, and is obviously more up-to-date, but I must say that Bartlett's is better organized, and has more scholarship, at least scholarship of the kind that I appreciate.

I was happy to see that both books will give you one of my favorite lines of poetry, usually cited in the original French, from Villon: "Mais où sont les neiges d'antan ?" ('But where are the snows of yesteryear ?'). Both books have this line, in both French and English, but only Bartlett's will lead you to it if you look for the French 'neiges' in the index. To find the line in YBQ, you need to look in the index for 'snows,' not actually a word used, even in English, by those who love this line.

Speaking of indexes, well, the YBQ's is awful. It is radically shorter than Bartlett's. It will not lead you to a page number but only to the name of the writer-source of the quotation. And these sources are not always easy to find in the body of the YBQ because the page headings are organized in an eccentric way.

But my biggest problem with the YBQ arises from its quirky way of dealing with disputed attributions. Shapiro, the YBQ's editor, is good about signaling when there is a problem.
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Format: Hardcover
Amazon has it a bit wrong on this page, as Joseph Epstein wrote the foreword and not the book. This excellent work is edited by Fred R. Shapiro, who also wrote, The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations. Mr. Shapiro is an associate librarian and lecturer in legal research at the Yale Law School library.

Quotes can be elusive buggers with attributions mistakenly attached to numerous celebrity names and quote books have a reputation of not always being accurate or reporting sources (right or wrong). The Yale Book of Quotations seeks to change that by tracing quotes back to their original source. It took a number of years, a lot of digging through databases, paging through old books and newspapers, and contributions from a dedicated bunch of researchers to make this happen.

Fred R. Shapiro's The Yale Book of Quotations is highly accurate and very useful for people trying to find out who was the first to say what, so if you need to spice up that speech with a couple of useful quotes, or just impress your friends with your quote trivia ability, this book is for you.
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Format: Hardcover
It is my strong belief that any person, in any profession, can benefit from a well placed quote or two. I purchased this book because good quotes are often overused and poorly sourced, and a good source of strong quotations can be invaluable.

I was pretty disappointed with the book once I got it. The emphasis seems to be on determining the exact wording and true original source of the quote: Very important details indeed, but accurate boring quotes are still boring quotes. The Yale Book of Quotations seems to have missed the point. Often we want to motivate, prove a point, or illustrate an idea with the use of quotations, and this utility of quotes should have been the primary focus.

I find the book to be only 1/2 as useful as I had hoped (deciding between 2 and 3 stars was tough). When I think of the hours spent by researchers and collaborators to find an original source, my mouse creeps toward the middle star. When I think about the full page dedicated to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards quotes, which are, in fact, all excerpts from original sources that are available today (you guessed it, Rolling Stones albums), my pointer jumps sharply to the left.

Its not a bad book, just not what I expected. Not as useful, not as interesting. So don't make the mistake I did, and find out what this book offers before you make the purchase.
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