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!
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.
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.