The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses but No One Reads

Overview

Ammon Shea is not your typical thirtysomething book enthusiast. After reading the Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover (and living to write about it in Reading the OED), what classic, familiar, but little-read book would he turn to next? Yes, the phone book. With his signature combination of humor, curiosity, and passion for combing the dustbins of history, Shea offers readers a guided tour into the surprising, strange, and often hilarious history of the humble phone ...

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The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses But No One Reads

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Overview

Ammon Shea is not your typical thirtysomething book enthusiast. After reading the Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover (and living to write about it in Reading the OED), what classic, familiar, but little-read book would he turn to next? Yes, the phone book. With his signature combination of humor, curiosity, and passion for combing the dustbins of history, Shea offers readers a guided tour into the surprising, strange, and often hilarious history of the humble phone book.

From the first printed version in 1878 (it had fifty listings and no numbers) to the phone book's role in presidential elections, Supreme Court rulings, Senate filibusters, abstract art, subversive poetry, strongmen contests, criminal investigations, mental-health diagnoses, and much more, this surprising volume reveals a rich and colorful story that has never been told-until now.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399535932
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/5/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,211,893
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ammon Shea is the author of two previous books on obscure words, Depraved English and Insulting English (written with Peter Novobatzky). He read his first dictionary, Merriam Webster’s Second International, ten years ago, and followed it up with the sequel, Webster’s Third International. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

1 The First Phone Book 1

2 "It Talks!" 23

3 Of Cuttlefish and Poetry: Unusual Telephone Books 67

4 Living by the Book 85

5 The Phone Book Hall of Fame 97

6 Reading the Phone Book 113

7 "A Shopping Mall in Print": The Yellow Pages and How They Got That Way 154

8 Ripped in Half: The Story Behind a Storied Tradition 169

9 The Future of the Phone Book 184

Final Note 199

Further Reading 201

Notes 203

Index 211

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    Recommend

    This book gives fascinating information about the political and cultural environment that existed as the telephone became increasingly popular and available. The issues around publication of the phone book and the way it developed are incredible. Everyone should read this fast, short read that gives marvelous information.

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