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THE NEW YORK TIMES GUIDE TO ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE 2nd ED.: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind Hardcover – 1 Jan 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1248 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martins Press; 2 edition (1 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376598
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 6.6 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This widely expanded update to the original 2004 edition defines nearly every facet of contemporary life--from arts, grammar, mythology and culture to science, economics, and geopolitical issues. Though bearing an authority and informational wealth that might rival the voluminous Oxford Dictionary of English, this surprisingly manageable volume is organized alphabetically by subject and contains thousands of highly accessible essays, tables, and lists, all composed by "New York Times" field experts. It also includes an introduction by longtime "On Language" columnist and Pultizer Prize winner William Safire. An essential background referenec for almost every subject: highly recommended for all public libraries. "Library Journal" I wish I'd had this book 25 years ago. It is certain to become an indispensable tool for fact fanatics. "Bill Bryson, author of A Short History of Nearly Everything" In short, this is the largest, most up-to-date and affordable one volume desk reference available today and is an absolute must for every home, dorm room and library. "Tucson Citizen""

About the Author

"The New York Times" is a daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed internationally. Founded in 1851, the newspaper has won 95 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A good way to irritate and intrigue (in equal measures!) your work colleagues. I keep it at work for when our connection to Google is too slow.
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Format: Hardcover
Essential reading for people who are interested in the world and life in general. Is full of interesting facts and stats. Much more fun than a search on Google.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars 30 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 8 Jun. 2016
By Mgg - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great product!
67 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of information, yet nothing unique 24 Nov. 2007
By Self Helper - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In response to the previous post: I would not feel alarmed about the missing information. I am certain hundreds of people were contributing to book. An omission in the history department would not likely affect other sections. One book will never be able to capture everything considered "essential". Essential for an American is not essential for, say, a European. No single book will make you "essentially informed".

I found the depth of this knowledge to be just right, though. I don't care to shine on Jeopardy. My goal is to become aware without getting too deeply into it unless I am really passionate about a particular subject.

Sure, some stuff is missing, but, what is there is PLENTY. For example: we all heard about Sunni and Shiites Islaam, but I doubt many, including, and especially, George Bush know the difference. How many of Seven Wonders of the World can you name? Do you know who Pygmalion was? Did you know television was invented in 1927? Did you know that America has the highest rate of STD's of all industrial nations? Do you know why? Do you care? If the examples did not evoke some sort of curiosity, this book, in all likelihood, will seem useless to you. But if you found that your brain lit up with tingly wonder, this book would probably be a good place to start.

On the negative side, truthfully, there is nothing unique or incredible about this book that sets it apart from others, maybe a little heavier. It's just like any other almanacs published every year by New York Times. It's just another information-filled book, not better or worse....

This book has over 1300 pages without a single illustration, and of course, is basic, but don't let it fool you, you can still find something new that can send you to the library or the web to satisfy your curiosity. If you are an average American, (not a geek, who probably already knows all this stuff anyway), if you are curious about the world you live in, and would like not to appear dumb when others discuss world's events at a party, you will surely find something fascinating about this "everyday" stuff. Something you probably had heard mentioned as recently as today without really realizing how little you knew about the subject in point. Each category contains 10-15 pages. Topics: Philosophy, Psychology, Broadway, Geology, Geography, Earth Science, History, World Wars, Music, Political Science, pop culture, world events and so on...

My New Year's resolution: one section a week.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Source For Information 9 Mar. 2008
By Joseph A. Guarise - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The essential book of knowlege is an easy reference book and jam backed with useful information. It can answer those quirky questions that you forgot the answers to quickly and easily. When was the last time you read the Declaration of Independence? What are those wine regions in France? How do I correctly punctuate this sentence? Faster than the internet.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and even useful book 28 Dec. 2007
By magellan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The problem with a book like this is the difficult tradeoff between completeness and brevity, and accessibility. Obviously in a one volume format, no matter how weighty (and this one is 1300 pages), something has to be left out. But it's a problem that this book handles quite well.

Rather than carp on what's missing in a book like this, like some of the reviews here, look at what's included instead, and there's plenty to keep you occupied there, no matter what your interests are. If you're interested in more complete coverage, my advice there is to buy one of the one or two volume encyclopedias, such as the Oxford Concise Encyclopedia from Oxford University Press or the Britannica Ready Reference. These are even more ponderous and complete but are less approachable and readable since the technical level is higher.

So don't be too critical of a volume like this, which attempts to steer a middle ground. It's still an enjoyable read, and worth your time and money. Also, I say this as someone who regularly reads both the short and long versions of several 'pedias and knows their pros and cons. For me this is something I would use as enjoyable bedtime reading when I don't have the stamina or attention span to brave another formidable Britannica article, or even The World Book, which traditionally was somewhat more readable, although the Britannica has resolved that issue now with the three levels of writing difficulty in the new electronic DVD version.

But getting back to the present volume, overall, a nice job and informative and enjoyable to read.
11 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A great book... if you don't have internet access. 1 April 2009
By Steven J. Wilson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Others have called this a "vast reference". It is definitely vast... and utterly useless. Perhaps it just wasn't what I was expecting but if you have internet access and you know how to use google, you do not need this book. It's simply a reference book without editorial or much else. All the information in it is contained on the internet which I find to be infinitely more useful (albeit more dubious). Nevertheless, it would take far less time to find confirm 3 sources on the internet than it would be to find what you're looking for in this book.

I guess if there was anything nice I'd have to say about this book is that it's big so it'll take up space on your bookshelf if that's what you need.
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