What Are the Seven Wonders of the World?: And 100 Other Great Cultural Lists--Fully Explicated Paperback – 1 Dec 1998
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From the Publisher
Both an invaluable reference and an entertaining diversion
Intelligent, engaging compendium of cultural trivia Chicago TribuneFun to browse or to quiz friends at a party, this is a collection of lists of items important to art, history, mathematics, literature, science, mythology, and religion Science News, USAGoing far beyond mere lists, [this book] delves into the histories and texts, the theories and significance of each. The question is the hook, but the answer is the prize, riveting you with more information than youd anticipated, reminding you of the joy of learning. Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Author
We explain how we came to write this book.
What are the Seven Wonders of the World? presents a fund of information that readers will enjoy becoming acquainted with, or meeting again after a long estrangement. The book contains 76 of the most culturally significant lists that we could devise over several pensive years--our own personal omnium gatherum of high culture as embodied in various canonical listings and numerical groupings.
Each question with its accompanying list is followed by an essay that identifies all of the items of the answer and places the list in its larger historical or cultural context. Many readers will heartily disagree with our selections and omissions, but our guiding principle has been to chose materials we considered to be fundamental components of educated Western awareness, including some important non-Western items.
We thought it would be fun and instructive to compose a challenging question-and-answer book organized around numbered lists that have become 'standard' (the 12 Tribes of Israel, the 12 Labours of Heracles) or that otherwise convey significant cultural data via numeric groupings. Whether you read, browse, test yourself, or quiz your family and friends, we hope you enjoy this attempt to convey some of the Western world's age-old fascination with hierarchies and discernments which is still apparent in all our Top 10s, Top 40s, and Fortune 500s. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Chapters are: Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Eighteen, Twenty and Twenty-Four. What makes the book more than just a quiz generator is the lengthy explanatory text, anywhere from three to eighteen pages. These pithy essays entertain and inform, and add greatly to the volume's enjoyment. Some questions are really obscure -- what were the five rivers of the classical underworld, anyway? -- but even the easier ones can leave you scratching your head and cursing your memory. Didn't I used to know all this stuff? Then, after you knock yourself on the head and shout "Of course!", you will have the pleasure of reading a well-written essay by a co-author or one of a small number of contributors.
There is also a fourteen page suggested reading list, organized by subject, that includes music and URLs. Rounded out with a good index, this is very nicely done and lots of fun.
In addition, the book does have a few weakness. First, there is the unavoidable one of the selection of questions. Depending on your tastes, some questions will likely be less interesting than others. Also, the authors have the occasional tendency to throw in a judgement with their answers which can rankle, especially in the religious realm. Finally, there is the feeling that some of the questions are a bit of a stretch, shaped to fit the format the authors have chosen.
Still, I don't get the sense that the book is meant to be a reference work. It is meant to be an engaging exploration of a potpourri of interesting questions. In that respect, it works quite well.
Each question is well-organized according to the number of items in its answer, which can vary from three (Who where the 3 Magi, and what gifts did they bring?) to twenty-four (What are the 24 letter of the ancient Greek alphabet?).
Each precise answer, instead of giving a mere list, is accompanied by an engrossing essay that places the list in its cultural and historical context and details some well-researched facts about it that aid our understanding of its meaning.
As a bonus, for those interested in doing further research in a specific topic, the book offers a list of suggested reading, which includes books as well as Web site addresses. A very thorough index is also offered for those interested in looking for a particular subject.
Overall, this is a practical, charming and pleasurable reference to either consult or flip through, recommended for readers of all ages eager to explore our culture's most captivating lists, series and hierarchies.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
But don't get me wrong. This book is FUN too. Horace put it best: An effective writer will mix the practical with the pleasurable ("utile dulci"), and entertain the reader at the same time he instructs. D'Epiro and Pinkowish do just that.
If you know a lot about history, literature, or art, check this book out. If you don't, check it out too.