An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't Hardcover – Apr 25 2006
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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.”
“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.
“THIS BOOK GETS AN A+.”
–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
About 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
What I will complain about though is that I can't trust the facts . Being Canadian, I flipped with interest to the section on Canadian politics. It says we have a party called the Progressive Democrats, also referred to as Red Tories. (for non-Canadians reading this: this is not accurate, the party was (the book is a few years old) called the Progressive Conservatives, and red tories are members of this centre-right party who lean more towards the left. Small detail but if they couldn't fact check Canada - when we speak the same language and live right next door - then how can I believe the facts in the section on Cambodia?
If there was a more credible book that does the same thing as this one I would buy it instead, but I don't know that such a book exists. This one is fun to read if you can get past the guy talk.
You can school all the other people who don't know what they're talking about.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Laid forth are the histories of various fields, with respect to the creators, movers, and shakers of the classics and masterpieces. While there is some trivia as such, what you learn from this book is not only how things such as economics, popular music, literature, etc., got started, but the major courses they traversed, i.e., WHY THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY ARE TODAY.
This book won't give you much to boast about at a cocktail party, but will give you an overall understanding of the state of the arts, politics, and the rest of the world in general, which may be of more use than what I had intended on buying in the first place.
An Incomplete Education is just the sort of book that provides a framework in twelve areas of knowledge including the Arts, Philosophy, Political Science, World History, Music and much more. The original edition was published in 1987; the third updated and expanded edition came out in 2006. It's a book of knowledge that is also very well paced and entertaining. For example, in the literature section, they identify "twelve fictional characters with whom you should have at least a nodding acquaintance"; in political science: "What you need to know before answering a personals ad in the International Herald Tribune".
According to authors Judy Jones and William Wilson, "In a world of bits and bytes, of reruns and fast forwards, of information overloads , . . it feels good to be grounded."
Clearly, this is not a COMPLETE Education. To wit: the title. After all, how would anyone define what might be a COMPLETE education. Rather, the book is a useful volume which helped me to organize my thinking. It is a companion that sits on my bookshelf "at the ready" when questions arise, (what do I really understand about the difference between Shiites and Sunnis) or when a Lexicon is needed to settle the question of whether continual or continuous is the appropriate word. It is a great addition to anyone's library, or a gift for someone who asks a lot of questions. I found myself savoring--and chuckling over-- each section.
I think that people need to read the book's introduction to see what the book is SUPPOSED to do before they slam it.
No, the book isn't going to be exhaustive or complete. How can it be? It's only one book and it's not even that thick!
The idea is just to learn enough of someone else's subject so you can navigate and know what they are talking about. You will need to read about it in more detail elsewhere, but at least this book will help you get started.
I did not find any SIGNIFICANT factual errors in the book. Perhaps in a book that attempts to cover all knowledge of the known (and unknown) world there might be an itty bitty error here or there, but I did not notice any. One assumes the authors used appropriate consultants for certain subjects. In the subjects that I am trained in, there were no errors.
Also, I did not find the authors to be condescending, nor did the humor interfere with my learning. In fact, my enjoyment and learning were increased.
That said, I would have to agree that completely serious, humorless people will not be happy with this book.
I bought the first edition of this book years ago, and I still refer back to it often for the simple joy of reading it. I learn something new every time I pick it up.