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What Are the Seven Wonders of the World?: And 100 Other Great Cultural Lists--Fully Explicated Paperback – 1 Dec 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books (Dec. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385490623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385490627
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,226,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Publisher

Both an invaluable reference and an entertaining diversion
‘Intelligent, engaging compendium of cultural trivia’ Chicago Tribune‘Fun 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, USA‘Going 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 you’d 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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought this book yesterday and I've already learned that Noah cursing his grandson Canaan was used to justify slavery, where the word triumvirate comes from, more than I ever needed to know about Isaac Newton and a few other gems. This is a fantastic book. Its well laid out, well researched, easy to dip in and out of and best of all its witty and sharp. No dry, fusty history for me, thank you.
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Format: Hardcover
A rather misleading title since the book contains 61 questions starting "what are", "who were", covering such diverse subjects as the 3 Furies, the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 6 flavours of quarks, the 9 orders of angels and the 12 knights of the Round Table. Each Great Cultural Question is given two to three pages of background making it a fascinating reference to dip into. The Folio Society edition is, of course, beautifully presented and beautifully made.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fun and informative book of cultural lists 3 Jun. 2002
By audrey frances - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This fun book contains a hundred and one lists organized by number. For example, the chapter known as "Four" includes the following: What are the four voyages of Lemuel Gulliver? What are the four conic sections? What are the four sections of a symphony orchestra? etc.

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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Potpourri of Interesting Questions 24 Sept. 2006
By Timothy Haugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a clever little volume which, for the most part, I enjoyed. Essentially, it is 101 questions (see the title for an example) with answers provided in short, generally engaging essays. For a triviophile like myself, it provided a lot of interesting stuff, though it's not really a book to be read straight through. Instead, taking a few questions a night should prevent information overload.

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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun overview of significant cultural and historical lists. 22 Jun. 2004
By M. E. Volmar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This informative, fascinating and entertaining volume presents, in a question-and-answer format, a compendium of 101 easy-to-memorize lists from the fields of history, mythology, religion, literature, art, music, mathematics and science, which are considered to be of great significance for our culture.
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
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, readable, entertaining--a real tour de force. 8 Jan. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Among the recent spate of "cultural literacy" books, What are the Seven Wonders of the World? is in a class all its own. It takes a huge chunk of the western tradition and offers it up in easily digestible morsels--and does so (incredibly) without dumbing it down. On almost every page I found things I thought I knew but had forgotten--as well as plenty of others I should have learned but never did.
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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Number please 22 Nov. 1999
By Karl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found this book absolutely fascinating. Short well written essays filled in details on the history and cultural setting of a wide variety of items from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to the 7 kinds of plane triangles.The topics chosen varied widely over many centuries and many different cultures. While I was familiar slightly with perhaps half of the topics, the essays enriched my understanding of even those about which I thought I was most knowledgeable and informed me on many topics which were previously unknown to me. I could pick up the book and open it to any page and enjoy myself whether I had time for just a single essay or could indulge myself for an hour. Everyone should have fun reading this book.
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