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on 1 March 2011
I'm constantly faced with my own ignorance but this book helps to reduce it slightly. There may be somewhere else that you could you get an understanding of steam power, an indication of quantum physics, a thoughtful discussion about welfare state, an explanation of scientific method and a clear-eyed view of the banking crisis (and this is the tip of the iceberg) but I don't think it could be done in such an engaging, simple yet unpatronising way. When I read John Farndon's books I feel I've learnt something and challenged my views - but really enjoyed doing it. It's a cliche but I did have trouble putting this one down.
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on 17 February 2011
'The World's Greatest Idea' by John Farndon (Kindle Edition) This is a truly remarkable book, because it doesn't appear to have been cobbled together by someone who needed to read up on each topic before he was able to discuss it. No, it soon becomes obvious that the author has approached his task already possessing a sound grasp of his subject - of his fifty subjects in fact! John Farndon would seem to be a rare phenomenon indeed in the 21st Century, a man who has refused to specialize and has opted instead for acquiring an undertanding of a wide range of human experience. And never fear, if you read his book you won't be left wanting to throw clichés at him like `Jack of all trades, master of none' - he really does know his stuff!

`The World's Greatest Idea' strikes me as a perfect example of the whole's being greater than the sum of the parts. The parts: the fifty great ideas of course. The whole: the human mind itself, fizzing and sparking away in a rather comfortless universe, conjuring up dreams, stratagems, cunning devices, systems of belief... John Farndon's book succeeds where quite a number of more portentous studies of human thought have failed, in converying a sense of our dazzling inventiveness, and the sheer scale and range of our achievements, mostly admirable, but occasionally villainous.

John Farndon is committed to the idea that 'the proper study of mankind is Man' - not 'the proper study of mankind is quantum mechanics' or suchlike. I heartily recommend his book.
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on 30 April 2012
What is the world's greatest idea - fire, electricity, natural selection? In true Top of the Pops style, John Farndon counts us down from 50 to one - the World's greatest ever idea - as complied by a panel of experts and voted for by the public. But what will it be - marriage, capitalism, or simply tea and coffee? You'll have to read it to find out.

This is a witty and surprising read - you learn something new with each idea, even if it's just where the public rates the idea! This is another great holiday/commuting book - it's easy to read and the short sections make it an ideal book to dip in and out of whether travelling on the train or sunning yourself by the pool.
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on 3 January 2013
There are a lot of "10 best this..." and "100 whatnots do/see/eat before you die" books and TV programs around at the moment. This book is well researched and full of interesting snippets of information about all sorts of things, which appeals to me. There is no real doubt about the significance of Farndon's 50 greatest ideas and, just as with greatest books or pop songs, everyone will have their own favourites and ones they would have left out, but that is not really the point. I have it on my kindle to dip into at convenient moments.
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on 3 March 2012
John Farndon sets out to do the impossible - to compare and rate the best and most important ideas ever conceived. He comes up with 50 wonderful ideas and ranks them in order. To be fair he acknowledges that there is no objective way to rank the wheel as more imprtant than say vaccination. However, the effort is worthwhile and the book is fascinating. He explains the historical context behind each idea and shows its impact. I enjoyed it and would recommend the book to any serious reader.
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on 19 August 2012
The type of book you can keep on the go for a long time, dipping in and out when life allows. Full of interesting facts and contentious theories, well argued, with differing points of view taken into account. I may not finish it for a while, but might just as easily go back and re-read parts - because it doesn't matter which chapter you read in what order. Very good value. A good downstairs loo book too.
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on 23 August 2012
A wonderful and well written book. Easy to start & finish, reading in bits or on long sessions. Excellent addition to my Kindle selection. A book that you can read over & over again.
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on 1 February 2014
One of the many books I've downloaded for my kindle, good read and keeping it on there to read again in the future =)
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on 28 September 2013
Full of stuff you can bore people at parties with. Well researched and also written with a bit of humour.
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on 28 July 2014
Excellent book full of interesting facts
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