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Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned
     

Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned

3.2 196
by Kenneth C. Davis
 

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The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Don't Know Much About® series -- a magical journey into the timeless world of mythology

It has been fifteen years since Kenneth C. Davis first dazzled audiences with his instant classic Don't Know Much About® History, vividly bringing the past to life and proving

Overview

The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Don't Know Much About® series -- a magical journey into the timeless world of mythology

It has been fifteen years since Kenneth C. Davis first dazzled audiences with his instant classic Don't Know Much About® History, vividly bringing the past to life and proving that Americans don't hate history, they just hate the dull, textbook version they were fed in school. With humor, wit, and a knack for storytelling, Davis has been bringing readers of all ages up to speed on history, geography, and science ever since. Now, in the classic traditions of Edith Hamilton and Joseph Campbell, he turns his talents to the world of myth.

Where do we come from? Why do stars shine and the seasons change? What is evil? Since the beginning of time, people have answered such questions by crafting imaginative stories that have served as religion, science, philosophy, and popular literature. In his irreverent and popular question-and-answer style, Davis introduces and explains the great myths of the world, as well as the works of literature that have made them famous. In a single volume, he tackles Mesopotamia's Gilgamesh, the first hero in world mythology; Achilles and the Trojan War; Stonehenge and the Druids; Thor, the Nordic god of thunder; Chinese oracle bones; the use of peyote in ancient Native American rites; and the dramatic life and times of the man who would be Buddha.

Ever familiar and instructive, Davis shows why the ancient tales of gods and heroes -- from Mount Olympus to Machu Picchu, from ancient Rome to the icy land of the Norse -- continue to speak to us today, in our movies, art, language, and music. For mythology novices and buffs alike, and for anyone who loves a good story, Don't Know Much About® Mythology is a lively and insightful look into the greatest stories ever told.

Editorial Reviews

Daily News
“A massive overview of every myth under the sun. Davis shatters commonly held myths about myths.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061925757
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/29/2009
Series:
Don't Know Much About Series
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
206,358
File size:
807 KB

Meet the Author

Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of A Nation Rising; America's Hidden History; and Don't Know Much About® History, which spent thirty-five consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, sold more than 1.6 million copies, and gave rise to his phenomenal Don't Know Much About® series for adults and children. A resident of New York City and Dorset, Vermont, Davis frequently appears on national television and radio and has been a commentator on NPR's All Things Considered. He blogs regularly at www.dontknowmuch.com.

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Don't Know Much about Mythology 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 196 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. It is great if you already know a ton about mythology or are just learning. I have reread this book for information and leisure. It breaks down myths from many of the world's cultures in easy to chew pieces. There is also a lot of humor to the author's writing, which keeps it from being dry or dull. One of the main reasons I enjoy this book is because you don't feel like you are reading a textbook or a scholarly piece of writing yet you are still able to learn a lot and for me the writing style helped me retain it. I would recommend this book to anyone, it is an amazing read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this audiobook (although my version was 5 CD's) in order to learn more about Greek and Roman Mythology so I could better read/understand more of classical literature. I didn't expect it to be a run-through of all of the world's mythology, including Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Germanic, African, etc... The abridged version is packed and very-well written with a satiric tone. Very funny. What matched, if not bettered the book itself, was the narrator - John Lee. He is the best reader in the whole wide world. I want to speak just like him. Total crack-up. You can't not like this! The part of this book that really made mythology interesting to me, and this is something I wasn't really taught in high school or college, was that these myths actually have some historical basis. That is not to say that they are true - certainly not. But when the idea that Zeus might have been a person or that there actually was a Flood (not worldwide, but one covering most of Mesopotamia ~10,000 years ago) gets brought up, the concepts of myths as fallacy versus partial/exaggerated truth brings these stories to life. That said, these myths can and are used to study ancient cultures - and they can be surpirisingly insightful. It also completely twists your perception of the bible, the Greek epics, Gilgamesh, etc... It makes all of this irrational literature come to life. And it gives you all sorts of academic inspiration!
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
This book is an intersting blend of history and mythology--and really does prove that most of us don't know much about either! Each section of the book starts with a timeline of events for the part of the world being discussed (ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Americas, Pacific islands, and more) and then follows with information on the myths of each in a question-and-answer format, including a "who's who" of gods and goddesses for each region. Sprinkled throughout each section are "mythic voices", brief segments from sources as varied as the Bible, Egypt's Book of the Dead, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung that serve to renforce the primary text. Overall a fascinating book, it really is a bit too much to read in a short period of time. We listened to the audio version while driving in the car--it was well read by John Lee, though at times his British accent and slightly different pronunciations got to be a bit distracting--over about three months. Definitely recommended, though it is not for young children, as quite a bit of awkward explanations would be needed. Ancient myths are not at all G-rated!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was surprised at how good the content of this book was: a thorough overview of world mythology, well-researched, accessible without sacrificing too much scholarship. I found the headings in the forms of questions contrived and not particularly effective or useful, but it's excusable for the sake of series consistency. Considering this was a Free Friday selection, I was surprised at how poor the conversion to a Nook format was. There are at least two places at which the pagination gets stuck in a loop that is almost impossible to overcome. One is around page 174, in the overview of the Greek pantheon. Direct accessing of pages and a great deal of stubbornness eventually makes it possible to see the text. I've had so many problems with pagination and page-turning with my Nook Color since the last firmware update that I impulsively bought a Kindle Fire when it was on a 1-day sale for $139. Between the pagination issues and the for-Nook-Tablet-only apps, I'm starting to feel as if B&N is deliberately sabotaging its older products. Perhaps Amazon will do better.
lochnez More than 1 year ago
As with another reviewer, I got stuck on pg 174. Using the "go to page...." to advance did no good either, it stuck on whatever page I went to. Shutting the nook down and restarting, as I was advised to do when this happened with another book, also did no good. So I deleted it thinking maybe a reload would work. I'll never know because it's no longer free! Is this going to be a problem with Free Friday books? I was thinking I might get some of the other books in the series, but now I'm no longer interested. Using nook Tablet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
During the section on Aphrodite, the book keeps going back and forth between two pages when I try to continue. Do not buy this book for the Nook Color if you would like to read all of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The moment I opened the book and started to read I was hooked...although mythology is great storytelling they are not usually a preference of mine to read, this may change my mind. Great pick I highly recomend the reading style is fast and captivating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haven't finished it but am enjoying many of the interesting notes. Thoroughly enjoying the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very excited about this book but found it a huge disappointment. It seemed the author would go on for pages before ever telling you anything. I felt like it was much more about stretchng it to fill pages than actually content. I abandoned it and deleted from my library about half way through. I hope for others the last half got better but wasn't willing to invest any more time to find out.
bert5775 More than 1 year ago
Understandable, easy to read and engaging. This will broadly introduce mythology, for readers of wizards and dragons lit this will give a basic understanding for the foundations of most modern fantasy fiction. It will also fill in the blanks for the person who feels lost when anyone begins mentioning the mythose of greco/roman western thought. You will feel informed as well as entertained
PLBsr More than 1 year ago
Well written, masterfully presented, entertaining AND informing. Having earned a Bachelor's degree in History, a Master's in Theology and a Ph.D. In Psychology I opened the book wondering what could it possibly contained that I hadn't brushed upon before. Kenneth Davis did it! He found new, reminded old and combined all in an outstanding enjoyable read!
dmckenzie2 More than 1 year ago
Good factual information but saturated with overly formed opinions. The author's own personal world view (enlightened modern-day researcher and author). Would have been much more useful if author had "immersed" himself in each realm of mythology, telling each one from the perspective of a believer. Instead, he tries to intertwine one myth to another because of the mere appearance of similarity. He over-steps conclusions, allowing his own modern world view to dictate how one societies myths is predicated upon those that came before. His disdain for biblical accounts oozes throughout other creation myths. It's kind of a double-edged sword. On one side, I feel like I learned a lot. On top of mythology there's a significant history lesson to be gained as well. You get an idea of how societies "thought". Which answers a lot of "why would they do that?" questions regarding historical events. On the other side, the author takes just that extra step to far from factual conclusions. I just found myself rolling my eyes at opinions. It's as if he needs to prove to the reader that he's smarter and unfooled by all these silly cultural myths.
DavidR1954 More than 1 year ago
I knew some of this and learned a few new things. Worth the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author spent so much time giving his opinions and comparing religions that after reading 100 pages and getting nowhere learning anything worthwhile I abandoned the book. I found the author to be sanctimonious about any current belief system, throwing all beliefs under the giant umbrella of dismissable myths. I still don't know much about mythology.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've forgotten most of what I learnd in high school about mythology. This book remindeed me of all the wonderful stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More of a college course textbook. Stories scattered and interesting but too scrambled.
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This book was written in a way that makes learning fun. Loved it!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I debated on rating this 'book' as I've read through it. Sometimes, simply on the interest of some new fact to me I would think 4 stars. Generally, most the time, however, I thought 3 stars. Then I realized that mixed with what I don't know about mythology is an agenda and it hit 0 stars, bouncing back to 2 stars simply because a lot of it wasn't so &ldquo;hands on politically correct mumbo jumbo&rdquo;. Now, the book really isn't a book. It is largely a catalog, lists, interspersed with essays that often served better than prescription sleep medication... for sleep of course. During my last burst of determination to finish this book I 'challenged myself' to read 50 pages a day and be done with it. I figured that was about an hour a day. Not so fast buddy. I had the stopwatch running. By 30-35 pages I was seeing double and nodding out... averaging around 4-6 minutes per page. Yep, sitting sometimes for more than 2 hours determined to at least get to the next section. In fairness, the seeing double is probably an issue for me and my optometrist. If it is myth you want, it is myth you will get. This &ldquo;book&rdquo; went far deeper than I had imagined it would. I'm not going to tell you it lacks information. It is rich with information....a hybrid text book, catalog, sets of lists... with essays to explain, at least in part, whatever that 'section' was about. If the book had never crossed the Atlantic to the Americas or ventured into the Pacific it would have been a much better book, in my opinion. Who would I recommend it to... absolutely no one. Maybe someone who has a graduate degree in mythology and hasn't read this book yet. It might be cool to read if you're like that guy in the Geico commercial who is told, &ldquo;everyone knows that&rdquo; and after reading this book you could retort by saying, &ldquo;Well, did you know... <fill in any number of obscure mythology details>.&rdquo;
Anonymous More than 1 year ago