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on 20 August 2011
I started reading the chapter on English Language, which I do know something about, and was very disappointed with it. It was very superficial (and old fashioned - it's been a while since I've heard someone refer to 'parts of speech' as opposed to 'word class'.) Misleading assertions such as alliteration being when 'a number of words on quick succession begin with the same letter...' (it's a phonological feature - you're talking about sounds not letters - it's stuff like that which can really confuse people).

I've skimmed the rest of it, but to be honest my concerns about the first chapter have just led to me feeling it's a bunch of badly researched information about stuff the author knows little about mostly harvested from Wikipedia, with little proper research (she does credit the website at the back of the book).

Looking at her website she's writen several books about the English Language. I'd recommend David Crystal instead.
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on 21 August 2011
I was looking forward to having my memories of school work refreshed with some maths and science formulae along with a host of other things that I'd forgotten over the years and there are certainly SOME parts of this book that live up to its promise. For instance, although I got Higher English and an `A' pass in my `O' Grade, I was never told about parts of speech like metonymy (which, on reflection, seems a bit strange).

As for English literature, I remain unconvinced that there are any hard and fast rules about what makes a great novel or novelist; the reader either likes it or not, and it is in literature that the final "product" can be improved by the writer's imagination.

However, imagination should have no place in the sciences but unfortunately, in spite of the author crediting "Bob" for "vetting the maths and science chapters", it isn't error-free. In fact, the maths and science chapters contain a LOT of mistakes.

The author states that the terms "metric" and "S.I." are equivalent or interchangeable. Metric weights and measures are similar to S.I. (Systeme International d'Unites), but the latter is the world's most commonly used system of measurement both in commerce and science. S.I. is a system of seven base units that can be multiplied or divided (in increments of ten) to yield other units that may be more appropriate in certain circumstances. It is possibly this use of the factor of ten that tends to cause confusion among many.

In her section discussing measurements, she says that "The pro-imperial way [of comparing the two systems] is that imperial units all used to mean something sensible, e.g. the foot was the length of a man's foot, the yard was the distance from his nose to the tip of his outstretched arm, etc." That would mean that, in days gone by, everyone (or every man) must have had feet exactly the same size - obviously preposterous.

This could be countered by stating that the original idea for determining the length of a metre was that it should be one ten-millionth of the distance between the North Pole and the equator at sea level (at least, surely, as sensible an idea as its imperial equivalent being the distance from a man's nose to the tip of his outstretched arm), but it has been refined over the years as our knowledge of science improves. Since 1983, it is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum in 1/ 299,792,458 of a second. *

The Systeme International is gradually being introduced to almost every country on Earth except the U.S.A., Liberia and Myanmar (!) *

To say that "0.25 and .25 are the same thing" is sloppy in the extreme. It may be acceptable for this to be used in speech between two people, but the zero should not be omitted when writing the figure.

The author writes: "milligrams - unless you're a pharmacist or something of that sort, you don't often need them. Something? Hmm. It's my personal opinion that it would do most people no harm to know the difference between large volumes of milligrams (running into several grams of certain drugs they may be taking each day) and very low doses of other drugs (sometimes measured in micrograms, or millionths of a gram). Ms. Taggart should remember that we ALL tend to be taking some drugs these days, even if only occasionally.

Her definition of a mole (in chemistry) is vague ("A mole contains the same number of particles as there are in 12g of carbon-12 atoms - that is, 6.022 x 10^23 particles.") My chemistry teacher said that a mole of a particular substance was its atomic or molecular weight expressed in grams, but maybe that's the same thing. It's certainly more easily remembered.

She really gets a bit confused the following when discussing synthesised elements: "Element 117, which will be called Ununseptium...", yet element 117 is shown on a table with the abbreviation "Uuo" and the name Ununoctium. The former explanation looks like the correct one.

When discussing the states of water, she describes steam as a gas instead of a vapour.

Since I haven't a clue about history, I can't say much about the history section in the book other than it concentrates a lot on English (as ever) monarchs and American presidents. That's probably doing it a disservice since it would be impossible to cram the work of a secondary school into one short book.

Likewise with geography, although I did notice that she has described Australia (a country) as a "continent". I think you'll find that Australia is part of the continent called, alternatively, Australasia or Oceania.

I haven't even got to the last 9% of the book - entitled "General Studies" (things like religions, wonders of the world and mythology, but I'd say that the more glaring errors should have been corrected even though she's had a fair stab at a very wide-ranging subject.

* Wikipedia
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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2009
Having read this book I can only assume Caroline Taggart did not attend a postwar secondary modern school where Austen was a car, General Studies, the history of warfare and Rossini the composer of The Lone Ranger.

We were not entirely without knowledge, we had poems by Shakespeare (no plays of course) and books by Dickens - though these were outnumbered by Captain W E Johns's Biggles books. We also learned about Marco Polo, whom Ms Taggart surprisingly left out of her list of explorers. Then again if Margaret Thatcher is remembered as the 'milk snatcher' Ms Taggart is much younger than I thought.

We knew about composers (Tuesday morning after assembly) but artists were an unknown group of people. Science was confined to chemistry while algebra was a foreign language. The parts I learned then (basic English, maths and history) remain intact but those things I never learned, or wanted to learn, remain as obscure as ever. The book, however, does simplify those subjects which teachers appeared to complicate by not explaining why we were learning them.

What struck me was that much of what is contained in this book was meat and drink to grammar school pupils who, unlike eleven plus failures, were expected to go on to university while the rest of us became tradesmen. Some of the educational opportunities denied then were effectively denied for life, although some came later thanks to the opening up of higher education in the 1960's and the creation of the internet.

There's a degree is editorial selection. Personally I always think of "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose," when considering Burns, while Tennyson stirs up "The Charge of the Light Brigade", probably reflecting my love of history. On a factual point the first colonies in the United States were at Roanoake, North Carolina, in 1585 and Jamestown, Virginia,in 1607, not Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts in 1620.

This is an easy to read book and, although much of it was never learned in the first place, seems a good place to start either to remember what you knew or to begin searching for knowledge you never acquired. I never did know what was meant by an anapaest. Now I do. Handy for reference, useful for light reading, certainly worth four stars.
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on 15 December 2014
The book was bent at the corners, and also, although a publishing mistake rather than a direct sales mistake... there was a spellin mistake about 2 pages in!
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on 9 September 2011
As other reviewers have noted, the material in this book is not always accurate. It is often dated, too. An example that hasn't been mentioned is that the upper chambers of the heart have been called atria - not auricles - for at least the past 30 years. Surely an editor should have done a bit of fact checking?

There is an irony here. I realise that a fair amount of what I was taught at school was just plain wrong. Perhaps the author was acknowledging that this is what we USED to be taught, however, I don't think things, here, are as complicated as that. I suspect that the mistakes are down to sloppy research and editing.

There are parts of the book that are informative, interesting and serve as valuable reminders. However, personalised lists of things seem to be page-fillers. Also, once you begin to doubt the truth value of one bit of the text, you begin to question the veracity of the rest. The book is not suitable for students but, in parts, a nice memory-jogger.
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on 18 January 2017
With my mother-in-law rambling on and taking the long way around telling her stories this was ideal.

When telling her stories she and veers off subject, many times forgetting what the point of the conversation in the first place. With the added bonus, sometimes of losing her thread, she sometimes forgets crucial details.

For example a long winded joke and the punch line. Or a stunning place she wants to visit, but forgetting the location that was on a programme she was watching.

She has been tested for memory loss, but despite not being a spring chicken passes all memory loss tests. It has therefore been established that this is just her and how she tells her stories/things she has seen on TV.

This is perfect as recently she has decided to say that as a more experienced person she has better knowledge than me and my wife. Thanks to being an elder person in society she is a fountain of knowledge, just can never remember it! When she attempts to tell us, she forgets crucial details, mostly due to telling things the long way around. (Much like this review appears to have done!)
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on 8 June 2017
Hundreds of snippets of wisdom, facts, theories, equations, phrases, rules and sayings.It includes:
• Our Changing World: Test your knowledge of the latest geography.
• Prose and Poetry: From Shakespeare to diphthongs, English class will come alive again here.
• Math and Science: Quotients, phalanges, and protons . . . do these long-forgotten words take you back to high school days?
• History: As Santayana once said so well: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Well, I learned that Canberra s the capital city of Australia (I though it must be Sydney).

Otherwise, this book is all lists – of battles, kings and queens, chemical co0mpounds etc.

Hinduism is NOT polytheistic and we say the ‘Western’ not the ‘Waling Wall.’

Not as funny as her earlier books.

Maybe, with the current fad for ‘facts’ in schooling, the stuff in this book might make a comeback. Otherwise, might be handy for a pub quiz.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 October 2008
This book is split into chapters based on the traditional school subjects, such as geography, history, maths, and then within each chapter split into 'typical things we were taught', ranging from the list of British kings to trigonometry to Charles Dickens.

There are certain chapters you'll skip, either because they were your specialist subject at university or because you're still not interested years later. But there are chapters you'll definitely be saying "I used to know that!" for.

It doesn't take very long to read the entire book, but that's only half the usefulness, because my copy will be taking a prominent place on my shelf- because next time anything that relates to these subjects comes up, I'll remember (I hope) that if I've forgotten it, this is the first book to turn to.

My only criticism is that perhaps 192 pages is a little ungenerous and the authors could easily have found an extra 50% of stuff that we've also forgotten from school. Or maybe that's being saved for a sequel.
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on 16 May 2012
This is not an all encompassing encylopeadic reference book. This is not a study aid. It was never meant to be and anyone who thinks it is or was meant to be needs to wake up. This is one step on from the novelty toilet book... I lie, for me it is a toilet book. A man's downstairs loo toilet book - it sits alongside the Schotts Alamanc's and miscellany's and the joy of a book that is 'It looks like cock.'

It covers the central points of education, History, Geography, Science, maths and English - reading it brought back memories of school days and Oxbow lakes. Oh Sarah and the bike sheds... i digress! Its what it is, a novely read, it raises a smile and actually is an ideal Capital city reference guide. Banjul, anyone? It's written in lighthearted style - I agree Wordsworth is dull! So is elevated from refernce material as it has humour and is elevated above toilet humour as it has fact and detail a plenty.

It is a great stocking filler or pet present to a quiz enthusiast or just someone getting old or with kids the right age. It still hasn't cured me of my inability to do fractions nor my deep rooted belief that Pythagoris and Trigonometry are utterly irrelevant. But i loved the prime minister and kings and queen section. Its a fun read and novelty buy!

Banjul = Gambia. But you knew that right?
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on 1 November 2011
A fairly entertaining bathroom read thus a solid 3 stars however she spoiled the fun for me a bit when she started giving the summary for Catch 22, which just happens to be one of my favorite novels - Caroline Taggart says Catch 22 is about 'fighter pilots' but the book is about bomber crews!!! Or is it perhaps one of those fem things where they (women) occasionally sort of fail to see the difference between drastically different but traditionally/stereotypically 'male' things, like the difference between a bomber and a fighter, or between a shotgun and a rifle etc.? I thought were were supposed to be living in an emancipated equal rights society etc.
Anyway, I would still say that overall the book is fun to read.
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