Customer Reviews


52 Reviews
5 star:
 (29)
4 star:
 (18)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different format - but still fascinating
Following the success of the initial QI book and follow-ups such as the Book of Animal Facts, a plethora of hastily - written, badly produced "facts" books appeared on the market. Some of the facts in imitators books were questionable, many based on inaccurate website content.

Perhaps in recognition of this, The QI Book of The Dead has chapters, rather than...
Published on 24 Nov 2009 by A. I. McCulloch

versus
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please employ a proof reader before the paperback is published
This is a really enjoyable book that is full of interesting trivia. The idea of grouping the biographies by theme works well and it's interesting to read about some of the lesser known characters (to me anyway) such as Moll Cutpurse and Mary Kinglsey. However the book is badly let down by the number of errors. As others have mentioned words are repeated and names seem to...
Published on 27 Dec 2009 by Dave H


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different format - but still fascinating, 24 Nov 2009
By 
A. I. McCulloch "Andrea" (Co Durham) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: QI The Book of the Dead (Hardcover)
Following the success of the initial QI book and follow-ups such as the Book of Animal Facts, a plethora of hastily - written, badly produced "facts" books appeared on the market. Some of the facts in imitators books were questionable, many based on inaccurate website content.

Perhaps in recognition of this, The QI Book of The Dead has chapters, rather than chunks of info in alphabetical or other order as in previous books. The criteria for grouping people together are somewhat bizarre,as mentioned, but also interesting - as you'd expect. One supposed "fact" is debunked here. There are not as many people alive now as have ever lived. The dead outnumber us by nine to one. (So just why did we ever believe otherwise? Interesting!)

I also wonder if the proofreader read this over lunch; it was certainly done on an off day. No doubt those glitches will be ironed out in the paperback. It might be best to wait, if you can. But if you can't, another really interesting read awaits.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but who did the proof-reading?, 18 Nov 2009
This review is from: QI The Book of the Dead (Hardcover)
I love Q.I. in all it's forms - the series, the books, the website - so the arrival of a new book was a cause of some celebration for me. This time around, the book is a series of potted biographies of noteworthy folk through the ages. For an added twist, they're summarised not by the times they lived in, or even alphabetically... the various figures are categorised according to things that they had in common. So, Freud, Hans Christian Andersen and Da Vinci all wind up in the same chapter because they had absent or bad fathers! It's quirky, but it works. Like the show, this is packed with 'well-I-never' moments, and proves to be a very addictive read. One criticism though - there are so many basic errors in the presentation, you can't help but feel it must've been thrown together in a rush. For example, in the first chapter alone, words are repeated unnecessarily in the same sentence, causing the reader to skid to a halt and re-read for fear of having missed the point. And poor old Hans Christian has his surname go from Andersen to Anderson, then back to Andersen, more than once on the same page! All right, this might be picky, but this is a chunky, reasonably expensive book - you'd hope it was at least proof-read once or twice.
All in all, good fun - and recommended for all fans of the series, or trivia buffs.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars QI Book of the Dead - Alive with QI'ness!, 23 Dec 2009
By 
Reddy (Down Under) - See all my reviews
This review is from: QI The Book of the Dead (Hardcover)
As a fan of QI, I've been fortunate to read many of the books and view the series. Although other reviewers have pointed out grammatical and typographical errors, I must say I was too fascinated by the content to notice them! In my endless search for trivia, rarely known facts and all round interestingness, for once, a book took me considerable time to read, whereas I normally fly through them. Why? I found this book so interesting I didn't want to put it down! What an insight into the lives of people we THINK we know/knew, proving yet again the outstanding research that all involved with the QI franchise do. It also shows that we should never assume anything; too many urban myths and legends are repeated today, and this book should also dispel some of those. We should learn more about noteables, yes, but we should learn the CORRECT information about them, which is why I found this book so fascinating. This is the sort of book that every trivia buff or person who regularly quotes "Did you know..." or for someone who just could do with a dose of interesting in their lives. Far from being dry and dull as many factoid type books can be, it actually had me chuckling or saying "Really??" out loud! Another outstanding effort from the QI Team. A QI Book of the Dead II, perhaps?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and facts from the QI team, 17 Dec 2009
By 
A. Iqbal - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: QI The Book of the Dead (Hardcover)
Did you know that Issac Newton was a member of parliament in his lifetime? Or that Hans Christian Anderson was terrified of naked women?

If you're a fan of QI, you probably know what this book's all about and will already be trawling the shops in search of a copy. However, you don't need to be a convert to all things Stephen Fry to enjoy this offering. The Book of the Dead provides the reader with mini-biographies of some of histories greatest figures (and some lesser known past marvels) with the only criteria for entry being the subject's interesting life.

Though the book has a couple of minor problems: there are a lot of proofing mistakes and the themes that link historical figures can sometimes be tenuous; it's well worth a read and full of fascinating information told in a humourous fashion. It's the type of thing that'll make a great Xmas present for someone or will be a light, fun travel read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than Quite Interesting, 14 Dec 2009
By 
This review is from: QI The Book of the Dead (Hardcover)
What links Oliver Cromwell, Catherine de Medici, Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo and Madame Mao? Why, monkeys of course! Cromwell was kidnapped by one as a baby, all the others owned at least one simian companion. This is just one of the very many more-than-quite-interesting bits of trivia this book provides. In fact, so consistent were the "how interesting, I never knew that! I must tell someone right now" moments in this book that within half a dozen pages I had to stop mentally note-taking and simply enjoy the ride. I reckon these tidbits must average out to one or two a page, which in a book of over 400 pages, means trivia-lovers will be more than satisfied.

This book is extremely readable and the thematic approach to its subjects (each chapter containing mini-biographies of its subjects based on categories of poor parenting, aforementioned monkeys, fantasy lives or sexual behaviour, amongst others) means it is easy to skip back and forth between chapters as you like. The index and suggested reading are also laid out gloriously clearly - a nerdish thing to notice, but refreshing in such books. There is even a link to QI's 'Book of the Dead' forum where you can discuss any mistakes you've spotted or find out more about the book's sources.

One issue though - as the other reviewers have noticed, there are some glaring syntactical errors which really jar against the generally highly involving and well composed writing. Nonetheless QI is taking over from Schott's Miscellany as the source for fascinating, well written trivia and this book is a brilliant buy for anyone interested in the genre.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please employ a proof reader before the paperback is published, 27 Dec 2009
By 
Dave H (The Black Country) - See all my reviews
This review is from: QI The Book of the Dead (Hardcover)
This is a really enjoyable book that is full of interesting trivia. The idea of grouping the biographies by theme works well and it's interesting to read about some of the lesser known characters (to me anyway) such as Moll Cutpurse and Mary Kinglsey. However the book is badly let down by the number of errors. As others have mentioned words are repeated and names seem to change at random. For example Francis Galton is inexplicably referred to as Dalton several times on one page before reverting to Galton later on.

Overall its a fun book but the errors realy grate. Without the various errors I'd probably rate this as five stars instead of three.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My kind of book, 26 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is informative and entertaining. Ideal for those who enjoy snippets of information but for those who like to delve deeper, it whets the appetite, prompting one to find out more. I have bought a number of books that would have passed me by if I hadn't read this book
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The (Sex) Life of the Dead, 6 Feb 2011
This review is from: QI The Book of the Dead (Hardcover)
There are so many books that I pick up with high hopes only to put them down unfinished. The QI Book of the Dead is not one of them. John Lloyd and John Mitchinson know how to write, how to keep the reader captivated, how to breathe life into whatever subject they choose. It was only a matter of time then before I laid my hands on their biographies of a few dozen famous fab people like Freud, Franklin or Ford and another few dozen of those fairly foggy like Fordyce, Fernando Passoa or Francis Buckland.

Never shy of controversy, like they did with animals in their previous book, the authors here too seem to focus on the bits that school course books and sanitized biographies usually leave out: sex, sex and sex. You probably ken the sexual conquests of Casanova and Sophie Frederica Auguste (better known as Catherine the Great), but it's a fair bet your memory cogs won't instantly clink at the names of Cora Pearl or Colette. Neither will you suspect H.G Wells of living in an open marriage with numerous lovers and countless prostitutes well into his 70s. Among other people mentioned who clearly enjoyed having it off are Franklin, Genghis Khan, Emma Hamilton, Marie Bonaparte, and Jack Parsons.

A surprising number of people turns out to be bisexual (e.g. Byron, Andersen); homosexual (da Vinci, Newton); addicted to masturbation (Andersen, Dali); otherwise obsessed with sex (Freud, John Dee). Conversely, if someone didn't live and die a sex maniac the authors brand them sexually suppressed (Mary Kingsley, Florence Nightingale) or a lifelong virgin (Nikola Tesla, again Newton and Andersen among others). It's probably only appropriate to quote Kinsey on that: 'the only unnatural sex act is one which you cannot perform'. He should know, he tried them all apparently. Well, it this doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will.

Fortunately for some life is not just about sex. So, you can read on those driven to food, to fame, to the other worlds, or to grand charlatanry. The life of Ignacz Trebitsch Lincoln, Liberal MP, Jewish, a Nazi spy and a Buddhist monk is an absolute find in the last category, but I'm sure you'll find more treasures like that in the book.

There are a few gripes with this book, as well.
First, the number of typos in the British hardcover. Someone on QI forum counted 48 of them. I haven't read the American edition of The Book of the Dead (Hardcover) (the one with a skeleton on the front cover), but it seems free of them, judging by reviews. Perhaps Faber didn't deserve all the thanks from the authors they got.
Second, the number of people who have ever lived is now estimated to be around 106 billion, not 90 billion. Also, stating that 'the earliest common ancestor of everyone living in Europe only lived about 600 years ago, and everyone alive on the planet today is related both to Confucius and Nefertiti' is just against common sense and science. These estimates are based on the mathematical calculations done by Joseph Chang (another possible source is Steve Olson's Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins) under the assumption that everybody has an equal chance of having sex with anyone else, which is not true. We share common DNA, but there's no way Confucius has his descendants among the lost tribes in the Amazon jungle for example. Genetic evidence points to our 'Adam and Eve' living in Africa at least 60,000 years ago. It really makes me wonder if the authors in the chase of curiosities and controversy ever doubt their findings.
Third, treating the visions and miracles surrounding St Cuthbert as factual.I'm sure with their faculty for words the writers could have come up with a description that separates plausible facts from impossible fiction.
Fourth, Feynman got Nobel prize in 1965, not in 1948 as the book purports. A fact easy to correct if somebody bothered to double check the dates. How many more similar mistakes are there?

Still, these are minor problems that shouldn't detract from the pleasure of reading this book. After all, as Stephen Fry said, it's 'dead good'.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and informative, 22 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A great book if you want to know more about some of the most interesting, bizarre, inspiring and creative people to have ever lived.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, informative - a book for all seasons!, 12 Mar 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really love this book. As mentioned in other reviews, the groupings are quirky - so many names here that we have all heard of but when you really look at it you realise that you don't really know much about the individuals beyond their single perceived greatest achievement. This book rounds out the characters - brings them to life - in quite short accounts it gives a crash course in famous, infamous and obscure people - united by their oddities or similarities of life circumstances or personality. I love the fact that because the accounts on each individual are brief that it is perfect to take out on occasions where I know I only have a short time to dip into a book - the perfect little space filler, I keep several books on the go on my kindle at the one time, choosing this one when time is short or the mood is for something short and sharp and entertaining. Recommended!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

QI The Book of the Dead
QI The Book of the Dead by John Mitchinson (Hardcover - 5 Nov 2009)
15.00
Usually dispatched within 9 to 12 days
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews