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Red Herrings and White Elephants Paperback – 3 Sep 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: John Blake Publishing Ltd (3 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844544613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844544615
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 2.8 x 18.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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)

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.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good present and lots of facts
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thought i had lost a copy order another one then found my other one.good book to have .
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great read
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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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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
On the face of it this is a christmas stocking-filler special.. it seems a good book and when you start reading it's great but it's not a book that's easy to read cover to cover. It details the origin of various words and expressions and some of them are really interesting. They've been grouped into things like politics, sport, the bible and languages.

However, whilst I won't for one moment claim to be able to confirm the accuracy of every entry, I can observe that several "claims" in the books are in fact completely inaccurate urban myths, which makes my confidence in the accuracy in the rest of the book somewhat diminished.

Overall, there's definitely some gems in here, but not knowing what's nonsense makes this a rather disappointing read.
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