An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't [NOOK Book]

Overview

When it was originally published in 1987, An Incomplete Education became a surprise bestseller. Now this instant classic has been completely updated, outfitted with a whole new arsenal of indispensable knowledge on global affairs, popular culture, economic trends, scientific principles, and modern arts. Here’s your chance to brush up on all those subjects you slept through in school, reacquaint yourself with all the facts you once knew (then promptly forgot), catch up on major developments in the world today, and...
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An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't

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Overview

When it was originally published in 1987, An Incomplete Education became a surprise bestseller. Now this instant classic has been completely updated, outfitted with a whole new arsenal of indispensable knowledge on global affairs, popular culture, economic trends, scientific principles, and modern arts. Here’s your chance to brush up on all those subjects you slept through in school, reacquaint yourself with all the facts you once knew (then promptly forgot), catch up on major developments in the world today, and become the Renaissance man or woman you always knew you could be!

How do you tell the Balkans from the Caucasus? What’s the difference between fission and fusion? Whigs and Tories? Shiites and Sunnis? Deduction and induction? Why aren’t all Shakespearean comedies necessarily thigh-slappers? What are transcendental numbers and what are they good for? What really happened in Plato’s cave? Is postmodernism dead or just having a bad hair day? And for extra credit, when should you use the adjective continual and when should you use continuous?

An Incomplete Education answers these and thousands of other questions with incomparable wit, style, and clarity. American Studies, Art History, Economics, Film, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Science, and World History: Here’s the bottom line on each of these major disciplines, distilled to its essence and served up with consummate flair.

In this revised edition you’ll find a vitally expanded treatment of international issues, reflecting the seismic geopolitical upheavals of the past decade, from economic free-fall in South America to Central Africa’s world war, and from violent radicalization in the Muslim world to the crucial trade agreements that are defining globalization for the twenty-first century. And don’t forget to read the section A Nervous American’s Guide to Living and Loving on Five Continents before you answer a personal ad in the International Herald Tribune.

As delightful as it is illuminating, An Incomplete Education packs ten thousand years of culture into a single superbly readable volume. This is a book to celebrate, to share, to give and receive, to pore over and browse through, and to return to again and again.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The current emphasis on cultural literacy and the first edition's popularity (LJ 6/1/87) induced an update of this fascinating refresher course of core curriculum subjects. Two freelance writers, aided by several contributors, cover in bite-sized portions some "essentials" for an educated person. The treatment of 12 disciplines is au courant, sometimes irreverent and cynical, but substantially reliable, helping the authors achieve their purpose-to provide an entertaining invitation to information that has inspired and/or confused us over the years. While some topics, e.g., American studies and art history, are only slightly revised from the 1987 edition, coverage in science and political science is updated or new. One of the most successful chapters treats in a novel approach the culture, history, and geopolitics of 18 countries. Not strictly for the reference collection, this book can be profitably read by people of widely different age groups who may approach its contents selectively. An excellent layout with numerous photos and illustrations adds to the overall appeal.-Stanley P. Hodge, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie, Ind.
Library Journal
The update of a classic that has sold a half-million copies. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Jennifer Henderson
"An Incomplete Education" was first published in 1987, but this book has been completely updated, making it tremendously useful. Arranged around college departments, it strives to fill in learning gaps in American studies, art history, economics, film, literature, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, science, and world history. Authors Jones and Wilson reacquaint readers with the essence of complex issues, controversial personalities, and current political trends in a lively, enticing manner. They grab your intellect with flashing wit while discussing topics as wide ranging as "what you need to know if you're dating an Ethiopian" ; Shintoism, "the Hammacher-Schlemmer of Eastern religions" ; and differences between symbiosis, synapse, and synergy. Can't keep those French monarchs straight? Check out the "Louis, Louis" list for insights into the lives and loves of rulers XIII to XVI. Whether you're pondering the relevance of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," opera through the ages, or aspects of fauvism, this book is an invaluable reference.
From the Publisher
Praise for An Incomplete Education

“AN ASTONISHING AMOUNT OF INFORMATION.”
–The New York Times

“IT IS PRECISELY THE BOOK THAT I’VE ALWAYS WANTED WITHOUT KNOWING THAT I ALWAYS WANTED IT. . . . It’s for people who have huge gaps in their knowledge of specific areas of culture and intellectual history. . . . Cheerfully, subversively anti-academic.”
–Jon Carrol, San Francisco Chronicle

“MEMORIZE THIS BOOK AND YOU CAN DROP NAMES, ALLUSIONS, AND ARCANE TERMS WITH THE BEST OF THEM, whether you (or they) know what they’re talking about. . . . The book will rekindle warm memories of your favorite courses, favorite professors, favorite books, favorite theories, favorite philosophical paradoxes.”
–Chicago Tribune

“RUSH TO YOUR NEAREST BOOKSTORE AND BUY An Incomplete Education. . . . [It] brings you 10,000 years of information. Imagine the power of knowing where Watteau went when the lights went out!”
–New York Daily News

“ARTICULATE AND IRREVERENT, crammed with facts, figures, drawings, definitions, and historic information sufficient to fill your every gap. . . . Judy Jones and William Wilson . . . tell you everything you should’ve learned but didn’t.
–Esquire

“THIS BOOK GETS AN A+.”
–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307567772
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/22/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 177,621
  • File size: 21 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Judy Jones is a freelance writer who lives in Princeton, New Jersey. William Wilson was also a freelance writer. Wilson went to Yale and Jones to Smith, but both have maintained that they got their real educations in the process of writing this book. William Wilson died in 1999.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Revised Edition ix
Introduction xiii
Chapter 1 American Studies 2
Chapter 2 Art History 62
Chapter 3 Economics 120
Chapter 4 Film 146
Chapter 5 Literature 184
Chapter 6 Music 264
Chapter 7 Philosophy 302
Chapter 8 Political Science 338
Chapter 9 Psychology 416
Chapter 10 Religion 450
Chapter 11 Science 490
Chapter 12 World History 554
Lexicon 620
Index 663
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(13)

1 Star

(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 12, 2010

    Bits and pieces

    I am typically drawn to these tid-bit style books. I enjoy reading useless and sometimes entertaining bits and pieces. So with that proclivity, I was given this as a gift.
    While it has it's moments this is basically disjointed, disorganized and uninteresting. A lot of what appears in here is opinion based. I don't read these type of books for opinion. This is like a "best of" list book in parts. I don't care to read someone else's opinion on insignificant things.
    I cannot urge anyone to buy this mess.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good jumping off point.

    I really like the book. I think the author's sense of humor is fun. Obviously the book doesn't cover every subject in great detail but it certainly opened my mind to new concepts and gave me enough information to do my own study in greater depth on the subjects I found interesting. I bought this book in anticipation of being on a quiz show. I didn't make the cut for the show but I was very pleased with the new things I learned from this book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2009

    Interesting and useful.

    I attended one of the best colleges in the country, one that is known for its so-called Common Core Curriculum, which should have educated all of us in the basics. Somehow I still managed to lack tons of information that I think that an educated person should know. I ran across this book and read about a tenth of it. That was enough to make me want to buy it, which I am doing today. I read the review from the reviewer who accused the writers of being homophobic and focusing on this aspect of their personalities in an unfair way. In the roughly tenth of the book that I have read, I found no mention at all of homosexuality of any kind, and suspect that the reviewer has a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A COMPLETE Waste of Time and Money

    I bought this book in hopes of enriching my mind and refreshing my memory of certain themes covered in my college curriculum; I was sorely disappointed. The authors take a sneering approach to the subjects they cover, in what appears to be a poor, cavalier stab at humor. The effect is off-putting, and actually inspires a defensive attitude from their audience. Caution lovers of Literature: chances are that one or more of your favorite authors have been denigrated within this book's covers. The knowledge the authors of this book impart on the various topics they cover is scant at best, and these anaemic summaries are more often then not followed by embarrassingly one-sided, pretentious editorialization. If you have a love for knowledge and some modicum of education, beware this book. If you have no real interest in the topics at hand, and are merely looking for opinions to snarkily regurgitate to an audience who in turn has no real interest in the topics in order to make yourself appear more knowledgeable than you really are . . . well, then, you have discovered your Holy Grail.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 12, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A horrible read

    Admittedly, I did not complete this book. I managed to force my way through the first 100+ pages before just getting fed up with it so, it is quite possible it gets better but highly unlikely. The authors of this work are clearly elitist, homophobic, cynical snobs with nothing better to do with their time then to insult and belittle the great thinkers and creations of humankind. Almost every single accomplishment discussed is put-down and if the creation isn't put-down then the creator is disgraced and half of these great historical figures they discuss, after slandering and vilifying them the authors always end the writing by mentioning they were homosexual as if that might be the cause of their supposed lack of humanity and/or ability. I am typically a fan of the cynical humor but this book was just over the top and should not try and pass itself off as a reference book from which one can truly learn.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    fun facts you forgot you knew

    very well written to be easy and fun to read in small bites, a good conversation starter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I stayed up til 5am for 4 days straight reading this book.

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It was addicting the amount of information they were throwing at you. They make it easy to skip around to topics that interest you most. The authors actually have a sense of humor which makes for absorbing all this information a little easier and entertaining. I would have liked for a little more detail and more clarification on some issues. Sometimes it did seem like the authors expect you to already have common knowledge on certain subjects which made their explanation a little confusing. But otherwise, I appreciated how the authors compared what you learned in high school to what you should have learned instead.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2008

    Very Disappointing

    As someone who has read and loved history for many decades I thought this book would make a great addition to my collection, but I was very disappointed. Much of the information is piece-meal and incomplete, just enticing the reader a bit and then leaving them wondering where the rest of the story is. I was also surprised by the frequent and glaring anti-conservative messages, which were often unrelated to the topics being discussed. I understand that historians are human and have political leanings, but in this book too much opinion tainted the historical message. I was hoping for an informative new take on the topics included, and as I say, I was disappointed.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2014

    Wow, a lot of harsh criticism of this book. The original 1987 ed

    Wow, a lot of harsh criticism of this book. The original 1987 edition was in my family's library when I was a child, and
    I have fond memories of perusing through this book enough that I probably read the whole thing 2 or 3 times in small doses at a time.
    Even being that young, I could tell this book has a strongly humorous bent and doesn't take itself too seriously, and neither should the reader.
    It's not designed to be a heavy-duty, ultra authoritative compendium of human culture. That said, it does offer a lot of interesting tidbits of
    knowledge (and opinion) to casual readers. It won't turn anybody into a scholar,  it's just meant to be a fun book that can help give a reader a little bit of well-roundedness if they can read it with some objectivity. Because of this book, I have had a handy and easy-to-read reference point for learning a little bit about philosophy, film history, etc. Lighten up, folks. And please remember, the key word here is "incomplete". I think some reviewers here have set the bar way too high.  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

    Quick read!

    General info for a rainy day read! Do not need to sit down and read at one sitting!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 28, 2009

    Just Okay

    Not as comprehensive as I had hoped (and too "preachy" on some points). Could have been better organized and given a broader view of the areas it purports to cover.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 19, 2008

    Very very disappointed with this book.

    Not well written and snarky pseudo-intellectual sarcasm included. Use wikipedia or buy an Oxford Dictionary or Encyclopedia instead. This was the first book I ever returned to B&N.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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