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4.4 out of 5 stars22
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on 22 May 2002
This book is so essential that all others books in this area should reference it. The coverage of the topics of memory, recall and storage go deep enough to satisfy all, but if you have any further queries then the references should put you on the right track.
The presentation of the subjects are clear, concise and given without being condenscending in any way. Remember to try what is taught and you will go a long way with only this book.
There are only two areas that this book could do with improving on: firstly as this book is now relatively old it should be noted that further reading is essential to keep up with recent study (most of which confirms that which has been stated) and the practicalities of the Phonetic system given here are not easy to grasp when there are simpler and more logical manifestations of this powerful technique (Tony Buzan in Master Your Memory is the one I know well)
A superb book that will be passed around my friends for a good time yet.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 31 January 2012
Kenneth Higbee's book is written to help people improve their memories. It doesn't spend much time with theories of memory or research that support these theories. It explains how memory works and some techniques -call them tricks if you like--that can make it work better.

The book begins by dispelling a number of memory "myths" that often stand in the way of memory improvement. These false beliefs include regarding memory as a physical "thing" and exaggerated claims about photographic memories. Higbee then presents the basic model of sensory, working, and long-term memories contained in most cognition texts. He derives ten fundamental principles of memory improvement from this model and demonstrates their effectiveness. Several chapters are devoted to specific mnemonic techniques, including the link, story, loci, peg word, and phonetic systems. The book closes with suggestions for remembering names and a general discussion of memory in education and everyday life.

I've used this book to teach a brief college course in mnemonic techniques. Students found it easy to understand and useful in designing mnemonic strategies for practical memory tasks. Compared to other psychology textbooks, they also found it affordable. My only negative comment is that it could use an update. It's not that mnemonics have changed, but that many of the book's examples seem a little dated to today's students. An update would give it more audience appeal and help convey its very useful messages to a younger, attention-challenged generation.
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on 19 February 1998
Dr Higbee reviewed literally hundreds of papers, books, etc, on memory. Here he distills what's fact & fiction. He teaches methods that really work. But, they do take some practice. The easiest ones can be picked up in minutes. Others take prep time & practice of an hour or more, but will help from then on. For instance, want to know how to remember long strings of numbers? It's here, it's easy (once you learn the technique) and it's probably not what you think.
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on 15 January 2012
I read this book with no significant prior understanding of the human mind and memory. I bought it in the hope of improving my own ability to recall information at work. My conclusion: highly recommend in certain situations, but of very limited use in others.

This is not really a fault of the book - hence it still gets four stars - but it's important that you understand what it is and what it is not (the author does go some way to admitting this but he also does not highlight how unnecessary the techniques are in certain situations). Let me explain.

If you are a teacher, this book will be immeasurably useful to you. It provides excellent, qualified guidance on techniques to help students digest and recall information efficiently. The memory aids discussed, used properly, can be very effective in helping you store and recall lists of information: eg. Kings & Queens of England in date order, 7 characteristics of living organisms, prime numbers from 0-100, lists of bible verses, etc etc

Part and parcel of this is to give excellent guidance on what helps students digest information in the first place - a necessity if it is to be recalled effectively - so teachers, this book is a must.

However, in many other respects the techniques are simply unnecessary or cannot be used. This is not a failure of the book, I guess it shows that our memories are not miraculous, there has to be a limit to what you can and can't do with your mind, but just note this before you buy the book.

The author goes some way to try and demonstrate the situations in which the memory aids can be used effectively. However, most of these situations can be resolved without the need to spend many hours mastering these techniques, unless of course you want to do so out of your own general interest as a hobby.

For example: the author repeatedly uses the example of remembering shopping lists or a list of to-dos as a practical use for these techniques. I find it more practical to just write them down! Unless you want to make it a hobby, then remembering your shopping list is better achieved with a pen and paper. Equally, the author cites the example of remember something just before you go to sleep and being able to use a technique to recall it in the morning. Again, a fail-safe solution requiring no training is to put a pencil and paper on your bed-side table!

Other examples used by the author are recalling the content of every page of a magazine, or every card in order from a shuffled pack - neither of which I need or desire to do.

Asking the unrealistic of this book would be unfair, so although my hopes were not answered I cannot fault the book for that. I hoped I might be able to find a technique for remembering things at work, for example, our rather complex pricing strategy. This is not information that can be easily structured into a list of points, however, so the techniques in the book cannot be easily employed.

So remember, if what you want to remember can't be easily structured into a logical list of information then this book is of limited use, but then so are all the others, because this book is excellent at showing you what you can do. But if you do need to learn a list of points, then this book will be extremely useful.
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on 4 January 2009
I'm not the type of person that reads a lot but i struggle to put this book down. This is the second day i've had this book and i'm only on page 56 at the moment.

When i started reading this book i thought it would have a lot of irrelevant information and that i would have to skim read to get the main details however i was wrong. This book gives more than is needed and is well worth the money.

This book brings up myths about memory and discusses scientific evidence on them. This book not only unravels myths about learning it also provides an abundance on information to help you remember.

Simply put this is the best book i've ever read.
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on 1 December 2008
This book is a very good book on memory as it goes into detail about the subject and uses research to back ups its theories. It will dispell any myths you thought about memory and what i like about it is it gives you a realistic look on what you can achieve with memory because other books out there claim they can give you photographic memory and never forget anything which is just not true. While this book has some powerful techniques which can astound you such as remembering long lists of numbers, long lists of items, dates remembering speeches and other subjects you wish there are limits. He goes on at how people have conversations with him and straight after ask him what they just said word for word, it does not work like that so dont expect miracles though you will be impressed. I read this because Derren Brown reccomended it in his book to read. I give this book 4 stars because in Derren Browns book he uses a much simpler system and easier to understand and use while the same one in here is not so easy to understand and has limitations. If you are interested in memory , not just techniques but abit of background then read this !
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on 2 May 1999
I did not begin to appreciate the book until got to the Phonetic Mnemonic System. Exhaustive, practical, research-based. Unlike most memory books, Dr. Higbee did not promise results without effort. I've taught the principles I learned to many students and the results were outstanding!
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on 22 February 2004
I chose this book above all the many other memory books because it doesn't make unbelievable claims. I wasn't disappointed. everything is explained well and I'm finding it very helpful.
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on 5 May 2011
One of the several books I have read about memory improvement methods. I could say it was helpful and interesting to read. There are simple techniques you can learn from this book that will help you to memorize a lots of things. Also I can recommend to buy another useful book called Memo: The Easiest Way to Improve Your Memory to get better results.
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on 7 October 2011
It's wonderfully presented, and easy to understand. I haven't had time to apply the principles in it (will try today though). But for the ideas it has given me (of which some may or may not work, of course) and the logic of it, it's worth every cent. Besides, I had always wondered why some things were the way they were. Or I had just noticed some patterns and I was wondering if it was just me who had those characteristics.... Very well written, backed up by easy-to-understand research. It's a good read, although clearly one needs to pay attention, it's an instructive, not a "pleasure" reading. It's a fairly small book (about 200 pages) but packed up with very good information
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