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THE NEW YORK TIMES GUIDE TO ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE 2nd ED.: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind [Hardcover]

Staff of NY Times
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jan 2008
Whether you are researching the history of Western art, investigating an obscure medical test, following current environmental trends, studying Shakespeare, brushing up on your crossword and Sudoku skills, or simply looking for a deeper understanding of the world, this book is for you. An indispensable resource for every home, office, dorm room, and library, this new edition of "The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge" offers in-depth explorations of art, astronomy, biology, business, economics, the environment, film, geography, history, the Internet, literature, mathematics, music, mythology, philosophy, photography, sports, theatre, film, and many other subjects.This one volume is designed to offer more information than any other book on the most important subjects, as well as provide easy-to-access data critical to everyday life. It is the only universal reference book to include authoritative and engaging essays from "New York Times" experts in almost every field of endeavour.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 1248 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martins Press; 2 edition (1 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376598
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 19.8 x 6.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 711,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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. It also includes an introduction by longtime "On Language" columnist and Pultizer Prize winner William Safire. 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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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended. 17 April 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good way to irritate and intrigue (in equal measures!) your work colleagues. I keep it at work for when our connection to Google is too slow.
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Essential reading for people who are interested in the world and life in general. Is full of interesting facts and stats. Much more fun than a search on Google.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of information, yet nothing unique 24 Nov 2007
By Self Helper - Published on Amazon.com
In response to the previous post: I would not feel alarmed about the missing information. I am certain hundreds of people were contributing to book. An omission in the history department would not likely affect other sections. One book will never be able to capture everything considered "essential". Essential for an American is not essential for, say, a European. No single book will make you "essentially informed".

I found the depth of this knowledge to be just right, though. I don't care to shine on Jeopardy. My goal is to become aware without getting too deeply into it unless I am really passionate about a particular subject.

Sure, some stuff is missing, but, what is there is PLENTY. For example: we all heard about Sunni and Shiites Islaam, but I doubt many, including, and especially, George Bush know the difference. How many of Seven Wonders of the World can you name? Do you know who Pygmalion was? Did you know television was invented in 1927? Did you know that America has the highest rate of STD's of all industrial nations? Do you know why? Do you care? If the examples did not evoke some sort of curiosity, this book, in all likelihood, will seem useless to you. But if you found that your brain lit up with tingly wonder, this book would probably be a good place to start.

On the negative side, truthfully, there is nothing unique or incredible about this book that sets it apart from others, maybe a little heavier. It's just like any other almanacs published every year by New York Times. It's just another information-filled book, not better or worse....

This book has over 1300 pages without a single illustration, and of course, is basic, but don't let it fool you, you can still find something new that can send you to the library or the web to satisfy your curiosity. If you are an average American, (not a geek, who probably already knows all this stuff anyway), if you are curious about the world you live in, and would like not to appear dumb when others discuss world's events at a party, you will surely find something fascinating about this "everyday" stuff. Something you probably had heard mentioned as recently as today without really realizing how little you knew about the subject in point. Each category contains 10-15 pages. Topics: Philosophy, Psychology, Broadway, Geology, Geography, Earth Science, History, World Wars, Music, Political Science, pop culture, world events and so on...

My New Year's resolution: one section a week.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and even useful book 28 Dec 2007
By magellan - Published on Amazon.com
The problem with a book like this is the difficult tradeoff between completeness and brevity, and accessibility. Obviously in a one volume format, no matter how weighty (and this one is 1300 pages), something has to be left out. But it's a problem that this book handles quite well.

Rather than carp on what's missing in a book like this, like some of the reviews here, look at what's included instead, and there's plenty to keep you occupied there, no matter what your interests are. If you're interested in more complete coverage, my advice there is to buy one of the one or two volume encyclopedias, such as the Oxford Concise Encyclopedia from Oxford University Press or the Britannica Ready Reference. These are even more ponderous and complete but are less approachable and readable since the technical level is higher.

So don't be too critical of a volume like this, which attempts to steer a middle ground. It's still an enjoyable read, and worth your time and money. Also, I say this as someone who regularly reads both the short and long versions of several 'pedias and knows their pros and cons. For me this is something I would use as enjoyable bedtime reading when I don't have the stamina or attention span to brave another formidable Britannica article, or even The World Book, which traditionally was somewhat more readable, although the Britannica has resolved that issue now with the three levels of writing difficulty in the new electronic DVD version.

But getting back to the present volume, overall, a nice job and informative and enjoyable to read.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Source For Information 9 Mar 2008
By Joseph A. Guarise - Published on Amazon.com
The essential book of knowlege is an easy reference book and jam backed with useful information. It can answer those quirky questions that you forgot the answers to quickly and easily. When was the last time you read the Declaration of Independence? What are those wine regions in France? How do I correctly punctuate this sentence? Faster than the internet.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A big boost toward being informed 14 Mar 2008
By Justin B. Dossey - Published on Amazon.com
This book doesn't cover everything, but it's a great start toward in-depth study of the world around us. I wouldn't view it as the alpha and omega of reference books, but each section inspires the reader to do outside reading. Take a year or so to go through it and you'll come out with a well-rounded and broad perspective-- and you'll be pretty good at Jeopardy! too :)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a taste of everything 16 Jun 2008
By BookKid - Published on Amazon.com
This book has been a lot of fun and has me reading about things that I wouldn't normally pick up a whole book on. Instead I get some solid information and it has prompted me to check out other topics in more detail. For example, it starts with a great introduction to architecture. I have been looking online and in other books to learn more about Gothic architecture which is something I wouldn't have done before. Obviously it can't cover everything but it is worth the time if you are interested in learning new things, expanding your education to fill some of the holes left from school etc.
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