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Red Herrings and White Elephants Hardcover – 8 Oct 2004

94 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Metro Books, London; 1st Edition edition (8 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843581299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843581291
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Albert Jack is a writer and historian. His first book Red Herrings and White Elephants explored the origins of well-known idioms and phrases and became an international best-seller in 2004. It was serialized in the Sunday Times and remained on their best-seller list for sixteen straight months. He followed this up with a series of other popular titles including Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep, Pop Goes the Weasel, What Caesar did for my Salad & They Laughed at Galileo.

Fascinated by discovering the truth behind the world's great stories, Albert has become an expert at explaining the unexplained, enriching millions of dinner table conversations and ending bar room quarrels the world over. He is now a veteran of hundreds of live television shows and thousands of radio programs worldwide. Albert lives somewhere between Guildford in England and Bangkok in Thailand.

OTHER BOOKS BY ALBERT JACK

Red Herrings and White Elephants
Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep
Phantom Hitchhikers
Loch Ness Monsters and Other World Mysteries
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Old Dock and Duck
What Caesar Did for my Salad
Black Sheep and Lame Ducks
It's a Wonderful Word
Money for Old Rope Part 1
Money for Old Rope Part 2
The Jam: Sounds From the Street
Want to be a Writer?
Last Man in London
Rose Versus Thistle
They Laughed at Galileo
The Greatest Generation - Diary of a 1st & 6th Airborne Paratrooper
Debt Freedom Program

albertjack.com (Official Website)
albertjackchat.com (Downloads & Updates - Join Mailing List)
albertjackchat (facebook & twitter)

info@albertjack.com

Product Description

Review

"Amusing and informative...[takes] you on a trip through the most fascinating and richest regions of the English language."--Knutsford Guardian (UK) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Albert Jack is a writer and researcher in pop culture whose favourite phrase is 'doolally'. He is 39 years old and has two children.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Maltravers on 15 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Albert Jack's books have been unfavourably compared with Michael Quinion's 'Port Out, Starboard Home'. I have books by both authors. Jack's are well thumbed "bog books" - perfect for passing the time in the lav. Quinion's lies largely unread in a cupboard.

Quinion's is almost certainly the more accurate and learned. But it's so dull. His approach tends to be to dismiss the wonderful folk tales around words and phrases in a very superior way before confessing he doesn't really have a better explanation.

Jack doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good tale and he presents a much more entertaining read.

The choice is simple - if you want a few funny tall tales to entertain a group of mates in the pub, buy Jack. If you want to be the lonely pedant in the corner muttering "well that's not strictly accurate" get a copy of Quinion.
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123 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Louise Dore on 15 Dec. 2004
Format: Hardcover
I had a flick through this the other day and in those few seconds I spotted two entries which simply repeated folk etymologies have been discredited in other texts. This is the linguistic equivalent of publishing a book full of urban legends as true tales!
By the author's own admission this book was put together simply to cash in on the Christmas/casual purchase market, and it shows in its sloppy research. If you, or your gift-recipient, are genuinely interested in the history of words and phrases, I would suggest Michael Quinion's far superior 'Port Out, Starboard Home'. It may not be piled high by the tills in your local bookshop, but you'll be well rewarded for seeking it out.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Paul Sloane on 31 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an easy book to dip in and out of. It explains the sources of many common expressions. Some of the explanations are based on folk stories or myths; some are based on fact. I note that other reviewers challenge the accuracy of the book. As a casual reader I find it fine and am intrigued to learn for instance that 'Bob's your Uncle' comes from the promotion in 1886 of someone whose uncle was the Prime Minister, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil. It is packed with such trivia.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Miss Tracey A. Parker on 28 Dec. 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought one of these books as a present for my brother,however I thumbed it so much before wrapping it that I didn't give it to him in the end. I only meant to have a quick peep but ended up taking it to read in bed over the next few weeks as I found it so very interesting.
As the title suggests it has the origins of all those well known sayings and you will find yourself saying out loud "oh wow, that's where that comes from". If you like things that are a little different you will really enjoy this book.
We keep it in the lounge and the amount of guests that pick it up and can't put it down is quite funny.
An absolute must have!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm1973 on 6 Dec. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I could not disagree more with the reviewer below. I also bought this book as a present and have read it (carefully!) myself all the way through, and got 2 more copies for others. The author must have spent ages and ages on research! This is a book aimed at a general audience - it isn't written for experts; but I have a strong interest in history and I find it eminently readable. No doubt there are a few areas in which his assertions are a bit over-confident but since this isn't a treatise, more light-hearted entertainment, I think it is silly to quibble. Have a look at the excerpt for yourself and make up your mind - if you like what you see, you won't regret buying it as it's the same sort of thing all the way through.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I am very interested in the origin of names, places and words and particularly how they relate to Maritime history so when I saw this book, which was some time ago, it appealed to my inquisitive mind. I purchased a second copy recently to give to a friend who was interested in the same thing in order not to give my copy up. This book tries to explain the origins of some of the everyday phrases used in this complex language of ours. It is well written and makes no claim to being the definitive word; in fact there are one or two that I would question. Jack breaks the book into seventeen sections which include Nautical, Literature and The Bible. This makes good sense and he includes an alphabetical index at the back which I have used on several occasions because I can't remember them all. A very good read in its own right and an excellent addition to my reference library. Albert Jack supports the MacKinnon Trust, a registered charity working to raise awareness in mental-health issues. Their website can be found at [...].
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Elfie on 1 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a great coffee-table book! You wouldn't really read it as such, but we find ourselves dipping in and out of it when we hear a saying that we want to find out more about. Who knows if it's completely accurate - can anyone really be sure? But it's good fun, provides a good source of entertainment and isn't too expensive. I like it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. H. Woolford on 22 Mar. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I cannot believe this was commited to print. Rolls out the usual and false definition of 'brass monkey'. 5 minutes spent on the web would have told the author that his research was wrong.

Couldn't be bothered with the rest of the book after that sloppy error.

Try Snopes instead
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