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The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Forget the history you were taught in school; Richard Zacks's version is crueler and funnier than anything you might have learned in seventh-grade civics--and much more of a gross-out, too. Described on the book jacket a The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Forget the history you were taught in school; Richard Zacks's version is crueler and funnier than anything you might have learned in seventh-grade civics--and much more of a gross-out, too. Described on the book jacket as an "autodidact extraordinaire," Zacks is also the author of History Laid Bare, making him something of an expert guide through history's back alleys and side streets. There's no fact too seamy or perverse for Zacks to drag out into the light of day, from matters scatological and sexual to some of history's most truly bizarre episodes. Curious about ancient nose-blowing etiquette? What about the sexual proclivities of Catherine the Great? Throughout chapters such as "The Evolution of Underwear" and "Dentistry Before Novocaine," Zacks proves a tireless debunker of popular myths as well as a muckraker par excellence.


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The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Forget the history you were taught in school; Richard Zacks's version is crueler and funnier than anything you might have learned in seventh-grade civics--and much more of a gross-out, too. Described on the book jacket a The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Forget the history you were taught in school; Richard Zacks's version is crueler and funnier than anything you might have learned in seventh-grade civics--and much more of a gross-out, too. Described on the book jacket as an "autodidact extraordinaire," Zacks is also the author of History Laid Bare, making him something of an expert guide through history's back alleys and side streets. There's no fact too seamy or perverse for Zacks to drag out into the light of day, from matters scatological and sexual to some of history's most truly bizarre episodes. Curious about ancient nose-blowing etiquette? What about the sexual proclivities of Catherine the Great? Throughout chapters such as "The Evolution of Underwear" and "Dentistry Before Novocaine," Zacks proves a tireless debunker of popular myths as well as a muckraker par excellence.

30 review for An Underground Education: The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Knowledge

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    This is a fascinating look at some little known historical tidbits from the worlds of literature, medicine, science, business, religion, and oolala, sex. Here's a list of stuff YOU may already know, but I sure as heck didn't: ~ Moby-Dick; or, The Whale sold less than 4,000 copies in its first 36 years in print. ~ President James Polk's term ended on Sunday March 4, 1849; his Vice President had already resigned. The incoming President Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on a Sunday, so technicall This is a fascinating look at some little known historical tidbits from the worlds of literature, medicine, science, business, religion, and oolala, sex. Here's a list of stuff YOU may already know, but I sure as heck didn't: ~ Moby-Dick; or, The Whale sold less than 4,000 copies in its first 36 years in print. ~ President James Polk's term ended on Sunday March 4, 1849; his Vice President had already resigned. The incoming President Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on a Sunday, so technically the chain of command left the President Pro Tempore of the Senate as acting President of the United States. The man's name was David Rice Atchison, and he told a newspaper that he spent most of his one day in office sleeping late and napping. His tombstone reads: "President of U.S. one day. ~ NOBODY EXPECTS the Spanish Inquisition to seize their property 65 YEARS AFTER the death of a relative who supposedly confessed to heresy, but that's exactly what happened to a wealthy family in Italy. Because of that - For a period in the Middle Ages, real estate contracts in Florence came with a "Heretic's Clause," promising the buyer reimbursement if the Inquisition later confiscated the property. ~ Besides being whipped, pilloried, stocked, caged and imprisoned, the Quakers, a group that preached "Love thy enemies," could look forward to having their ears cut off and their tongues bored through with a hot iron by their arch-enemies, the Puritans, who came to this country seeking religious "freedom." ~ Also in a Puritanical vein, there was this snicker-inducing quote by historian Thomas Macaulay - "The Puritans hated bearbaiting, not because it gave pain to the bear but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." And one more, my favorite stranger-than-fiction tale in the whole book ~ On May 12, 1863, a bullet passed through the scrotum of a young soldier. The same bullet then penetrated the abdomen of a young woman who was ministering to the wounds of her countrymen. Both victims survived their injuries, but amazingly, two hundred and seventy eight days after the reception of the minie-ball, the girl gave birth to a strapping eight-pound baby boy. Family and friends were mortified, and the girl herself was quite surprised as she insisted she had been a virgin. Three weeks later, a doctor was called to check on the baby. He found the child's scrotum to be swollen and sensitive. Upon operating, he discovered a smashed and battered minie-ball. He managed to put two and two together and approached the soldier with the evidence. The young man was skeptical at first, but consented to visit the young mother; a friendship ensued which soon ripened into a happy marriage, and the pair had three children. Is it true? I don't know, though it does seem to smack of being a folktale. I love it because it's the only story I can think of that combines the magic bullet theory with a virgin birth! These refreshing little dips into history horrified me, charmed me, amused me and left me with a long list of things that are going to require further investigation. To the library, posthaste!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manybooks

    Fun, engagingly entertaining and often really quite fascinating (and yes, also exceedingly well researched, with all or at least most academic sources readily acknowledged by the author), but rereading Richard Zacks' An Underground Education has indeed made me realise that for one, the rather constant focus on and depiction of sex, sex and even more sex does tend to become more than a bit juvenile (diverting, even funny to an extent, but also often rather boring and tedious, almost as though I a Fun, engagingly entertaining and often really quite fascinating (and yes, also exceedingly well researched, with all or at least most academic sources readily acknowledged by the author), but rereading Richard Zacks' An Underground Education has indeed made me realise that for one, the rather constant focus on and depiction of sex, sex and even more sex does tend to become more than a bit juvenile (diverting, even funny to an extent, but also often rather boring and tedious, almost as though I am reading a book penned by a teenager looking for cheaply titillating, and with a bit of a pun most definitely intended here, thrills), and for two, that while I am indeed and in fact sure that ALL (or at least the vast majority) of the historical anecdotes and snippets listed and depicted by author Richard Zacks are based on actual reality, the manner in which he has chosen to present them to us as readers and more importantly, which historical factoids have been chosen and which have been ignored and not included makes An Underground Education rather majorly one-sided at times and often basically a bit too much of a problematic diatribe against Catholicism, Puritanism, Christianity (and actually, against all and sundry religious beliefs, period). And no, I am neither a religious fundamentalist in any manner nor have I ever objected to religion-based historical and/or cultural criticism, but I do have to say and consider that since An Underground Education is (in my opinion) and from its very title obviously meant to be a manual of supplemental, of unknown (or not as readily known) historical details and facts about world history and human knowledge in general, I have found much of the presented and featured information a bit unbalanced, onesided, and majorly geared towards an unfortunate general attitude of vehement anti-religion, anti-faith in and of itself. And with this truth of the matter in mind (at least, or rather, this is how I personally tend to now view and consider An Underground Education), I would (and even though I absolutely did majorly adore this book and Richard Zacks' musings, impressions and style of expression the first time I read An Underground Education in 2000) now ONLY consider a low three star ranking at best for An Underground Education (but nevertheless, the book is still to be warmly recommended as a fun, engaging and above all much entertaining foray into world history, world culture, philosophy etc., but with the necessary caveat that in my humble opinion, there is simply a bit too much authorial, read personal bias and in particular against all religions in general cast across the proverbial board).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Graham

    Just how many foreskins could Jesus have possibly had? Inquiring minds want to know.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Raven

    This book is filled with all the dirty laundry that never gets aired in the history of our ignoble species. Did you know the pope once endorsed a cocaine-laced wine? Just say no, man. A donkey was once charged with seducing a man into sexual congress, don't worry, she got off. --Oh, that was bad. Alright, just read it, that way you can speak on a variety of subjects as though you're smarter than everyone else. Except me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    lola

    Let me tell you: the first story I told out of this book, about the KKK originally being a pyramid scheme to bilk racists out of their $$$ while also cleverly holding major interests in custom white sheet manufacturers, was flatly disbelieved by a bunch of the most revisionist-beliefy people. The "Lies My Teacher Told Me" guy would probably ask to switch his airplane seat away from this guy--the marks of a truly excellent book of facts. Let me tell you: the first story I told out of this book, about the KKK originally being a pyramid scheme to bilk racists out of their $$$ while also cleverly holding major interests in custom white sheet manufacturers, was flatly disbelieved by a bunch of the most revisionist-beliefy people. The "Lies My Teacher Told Me" guy would probably ask to switch his airplane seat away from this guy--the marks of a truly excellent book of facts.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    This book didn't do a thing for me. First, much of the things that "we didn't know" about history, we already knew such as why President Garfield really died or the trials and tribulation of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion. Second, the sources the author uses are sometimes less than scholarly and turn out to be books that are similar to this one, such as The Dictionary of Misinformation which also used less than learned source material. Third, the author appears to have This book didn't do a thing for me. First, much of the things that "we didn't know" about history, we already knew such as why President Garfield really died or the trials and tribulation of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion. Second, the sources the author uses are sometimes less than scholarly and turn out to be books that are similar to this one, such as The Dictionary of Misinformation which also used less than learned source material. Third, the author appears to have a particular interest in bodily functions and sexual aberrations; not that some of the sections weren't interesting but enough is enough. If you have young children, don't leave this book lying around since it also contains photographs and drawings that are not suitable for youngsters (and maybe some oldsters!). It was not exactly what I expected and the word "cheesy" leaps to mind. Not a book I would recommend although I appear to be in the minority.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is a book I cannot quite decide upon - there is the fact it tells short anecdotal facts about what you think are well know events and stories from real life history to the original telling of famous fairy stories - all with a level and moderate tone regardless of how outlandish or sensational the item. This makes it a fascinating book full of fun trivia. But then there is the second side, there is the sly mocking tone - set up in the authors own introduction where he explains how he mocked This is a book I cannot quite decide upon - there is the fact it tells short anecdotal facts about what you think are well know events and stories from real life history to the original telling of famous fairy stories - all with a level and moderate tone regardless of how outlandish or sensational the item. This makes it a fascinating book full of fun trivia. But then there is the second side, there is the sly mocking tone - set up in the authors own introduction where he explains how he mocked and ridiculed conventional education for being too boring and too sanitised - Fair point but it was the tone that took me - its like he was the one at the back of class who messed about and made jokes while i struggled at the front - as if I am stupid and he is clever. Now don't get me wrong that is how i interpreted it and if like many an introduction if i had skipped over it i would have been none the wiser and a lot more comfortable with this book. There is a lot of information in this book some of which is well known while others are quite surprising - in short a great book to dip in and out of, just ignore any smugness.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Withun

    -

  9. 4 out of 5

    Avid

    The material was pretty good, i suppose, but the writing was frequently not good. There was too much material for one book, and it was not organized well. There were many times that a simple introductory sentence would have been useful to set the time and place of the upcoming set of events. Sometimes the stories meandered or had no obvious point, like listening to someone telling about their dream. Not infrequently, the author used the wrong word entirely, like he doesn’t really have a firm gra The material was pretty good, i suppose, but the writing was frequently not good. There was too much material for one book, and it was not organized well. There were many times that a simple introductory sentence would have been useful to set the time and place of the upcoming set of events. Sometimes the stories meandered or had no obvious point, like listening to someone telling about their dream. Not infrequently, the author used the wrong word entirely, like he doesn’t really have a firm grasp on the English language. I would recommend this book if a really good editor got a hold of it, organized it, cleaned up the errors, and weeded out about half the material. But in its current state, i’d have to recommend you skip this one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    I am glad there are so many of these kinds of books, so I can keep a steady supply for bedtime reading: compilations of relatively brief essays on a variety of topics, oddities the author somehow got a publisher to pay him to compile, drawn from sources respectable and dubious, and written up with sprightly clarity. Just what is needed for amusement until the old eyes get heavy. And so we get interesting enough disquisitions on early electroshock therapy and the fad for lobotomies, Tales of amus I am glad there are so many of these kinds of books, so I can keep a steady supply for bedtime reading: compilations of relatively brief essays on a variety of topics, oddities the author somehow got a publisher to pay him to compile, drawn from sources respectable and dubious, and written up with sprightly clarity. Just what is needed for amusement until the old eyes get heavy. And so we get interesting enough disquisitions on early electroshock therapy and the fad for lobotomies, Tales of amusing criminals from the 19th century, odd facts from ancient history, descriptions of how awful tyrants through the ages could be, and familiar tales such as Darwin's hesitancy in publishing Origins. And so on. An enjoyable month or so of nighttime reading that went fairly quickly. I shall likely remember few of the details, but will keep warm feelings for the satisfactions the book gave and its guarantee of quickly getting to sleep.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mike Feher

    Zacks does a fine job here of cataloging the lubriciously perverse, the brazenly grotesque, and the downright bizarre and largely glossed-over true history of our humanity from the dawn of civilization onward. He punctures the common heartwarming myths and fairy tales still taught to countless school children while dutifully acknowledging the whitewashing we receive growing up (owing largely to the saccharine and protective "think of the children" meme). This book is low culture and high enterta Zacks does a fine job here of cataloging the lubriciously perverse, the brazenly grotesque, and the downright bizarre and largely glossed-over true history of our humanity from the dawn of civilization onward. He punctures the common heartwarming myths and fairy tales still taught to countless school children while dutifully acknowledging the whitewashing we receive growing up (owing largely to the saccharine and protective "think of the children" meme). This book is low culture and high entertainment wrapped into one, and makes a great pairing with Howard Zinn's "A People's History of The United States."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Alkire

    Boring and tedious. This book made me realize why I don’t like encyclopedias or trivia factoid books. The entries are just overwhelming. The entries are very uneven and within the categories, very disorganized. The writing is tediously irrelevant. The content is a hash of the bizarre, sex and standard history with myths being either disproved or perpetuated depending on the author’s view. Some items were interesting, but not enough to give this book a good rating. I ended up very disappointed wi Boring and tedious. This book made me realize why I don’t like encyclopedias or trivia factoid books. The entries are just overwhelming. The entries are very uneven and within the categories, very disorganized. The writing is tediously irrelevant. The content is a hash of the bizarre, sex and standard history with myths being either disproved or perpetuated depending on the author’s view. Some items were interesting, but not enough to give this book a good rating. I ended up very disappointed with this one. So, I give this one a 2. Some interesting items, but the layout, writing and content were not particularly good or noteworthy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    S.P. Muir

    This is an unorthodox and somewhat irreverent take on... well, just about everything, really. I have to admit to being something of an enthusiast for the truth behind received history etc. As such I was already aware of some of the revelations. This didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book though - it's always good to see the facts you regale your disbelieving friends with confirmed in print. I did find the extremely informal writing style a little jarring, however; and expletives were used rather t This is an unorthodox and somewhat irreverent take on... well, just about everything, really. I have to admit to being something of an enthusiast for the truth behind received history etc. As such I was already aware of some of the revelations. This didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book though - it's always good to see the facts you regale your disbelieving friends with confirmed in print. I did find the extremely informal writing style a little jarring, however; and expletives were used rather too freely for my taste. Not that I'm a prude, mind - sometimes only a good four letter word will do! It's just there were times when it seemed somewhat unnecessary. This is of course, highly subjective; many, if not most readers of this sort of thing will appreciate the informal use of the vernacular. It did mean that I gave it only three stars rather than the four it perhaps deserves. All in all this is an extremely worthwhile read and it contains some jaw-dropping facts that blow the lid on our comfortable views about the past.

  14. 4 out of 5

    jack

    good criminy! this book is so poorly written! and i do not really care about "101 amazing things you didn't know about the dead white men of a hundred years ago!" ok. i quit. i give up. this book is totally dumb. i mean, i might throw it in the reading rack in the bathroom for a bit before i sell it but i basically could not give less of a fuck about it. i thought it was going to be much more subversive but instead it's just irritating. i hate bad editing. like, this guy writes like he's on cocai good criminy! this book is so poorly written! and i do not really care about "101 amazing things you didn't know about the dead white men of a hundred years ago!" ok. i quit. i give up. this book is totally dumb. i mean, i might throw it in the reading rack in the bathroom for a bit before i sell it but i basically could not give less of a fuck about it. i thought it was going to be much more subversive but instead it's just irritating. i hate bad editing. like, this guy writes like he's on cocaine. one minute it's about one thing. the next he's on to something else. in the same fucking sentence! argh. and also, i hate his voice. he's so smug. why? i don't know. if you're bored on an airplane read this. that is if the copy of skymall isn't in the seat back in front of you.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book has as much information as an encyclopedia and really can't be read all at once (though I pretty much did). I learned all kinds of weird, fascinating - and sometimes disturbing - historical tidbits about all kinds of things: from the real stories behind popular fairy tales (creepy and violent plots that have been significantly watered down through the ages) to how toilet paper was invented. An entry that stood out (and gave me an "a ha!" moment) was about Vincent Van Gogh and other "cr This book has as much information as an encyclopedia and really can't be read all at once (though I pretty much did). I learned all kinds of weird, fascinating - and sometimes disturbing - historical tidbits about all kinds of things: from the real stories behind popular fairy tales (creepy and violent plots that have been significantly watered down through the ages) to how toilet paper was invented. An entry that stood out (and gave me an "a ha!" moment) was about Vincent Van Gogh and other "crazy" famous artists, who may owe their "craziness" to the fact that current scientific tests of their painting materials discovered that the majority of what they were working with was highly saturated with lead. I knew he had to have a good reason for cutting off that ear.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Most interesting book I've ever read. It contains all the stuff they are too embarrased to tell you about in school. It's a collection of information, so it's a great book to pick up and read at short intervals since you don't have to read it in any order and there are short enough sections to finish in a small amount of time. You've heard of the quest for the holy grail, but did you ever hear about the great quests for Jesus' foreskin? I had never really thought of it before, but if you believe Most interesting book I've ever read. It contains all the stuff they are too embarrased to tell you about in school. It's a collection of information, so it's a great book to pick up and read at short intervals since you don't have to read it in any order and there are short enough sections to finish in a small amount of time. You've heard of the quest for the holy grail, but did you ever hear about the great quests for Jesus' foreskin? I had never really thought of it before, but if you believe that Jesus had his whole body taken to heaven, then the only thing left behind would be the foreskin that was circumsized. That gives you an idea of the kind of info in this great book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    An interesting collection of facts and some pretty funny histories are included in this book, i can remember using things i learnt about the history of underwear in real life conversations, all i got were odd looks and not crowned King of All as I expected. Unfortunately the book does start to get a bit dull, the momentum of reading started to fall as I got into the last third of the book, i kept finding other distractions so I could put the book down for a few days. I made it to the end though. An interesting collection of facts and some pretty funny histories are included in this book, i can remember using things i learnt about the history of underwear in real life conversations, all i got were odd looks and not crowned King of All as I expected. Unfortunately the book does start to get a bit dull, the momentum of reading started to fall as I got into the last third of the book, i kept finding other distractions so I could put the book down for a few days. I made it to the end though. If the book was a bit shorter or split into 2 volumes this would have got a higher rating from me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mandee Forehand

    I'm not one for reading "history" books, but this one made me actually pay attention. Too bad most texts remove the colorful parts that help you remember the factual ones. In a nutshell, this was a delightful, easy read that became a great resource to other interesting finds (like The Selected Letters of James Joyce, with which I am currently obsessed). I recommend it for when your brain needs a break from Ulysses or say, The Art of the Personal Essay...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tim Parkinson

    An interesting, amusing, and sometimes horrifying collection of bizarre stories, anecdotes and factoids. As the title suggests, this is the stuff that you probably wont learn in history or science class (unless your teacher happened to have read this book). Read it from cover to cover, or flip through it on your lunch break, either way you will never been short on an entertaining anecdote again.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ash Crowe

    One of the most entertaining books full of random historical facts and stories that I've ever read. A great read for when you only want to read a page or ten & surprisingly readable in 50 page chunks as well. One of the most entertaining books full of random historical facts and stories that I've ever read. A great read for when you only want to read a page or ten & surprisingly readable in 50 page chunks as well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Roland

    A collection of some of the most bizarre bits of trivia imaginable. This gets five stars because it tells you how to get your hands on those James Joyce sex letters, though you can probably easily find them on the internet now.

  22. 4 out of 5

    lyndsay ortiz

    We own three copies of this book for a reason. It is a reference guide to weird historical facts that kick-start great party conversations and we loan it out to friends we deem worthy. One of those books you can open up to, any where, any time. Fascinating.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Buck

    Newspaper style articles on a variety of unusual historical subjects and events. A thoroughly enjoyable read and a great place to get some ideas for further exploration.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    Best bathroom book ever! The pope ran a harem. Doctors used to kill people. Fascinating short stories that will challenge everything you thought you knew of the past.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Bateman

    loads of fun little historical "bits," even if it's not tied to any comprehensive whole

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charles Tatum, Jr.

    You must think you are the cat's patoot, so sure you know everything. You paid attention in class, got good grades, and everything Mr. or Mrs. Insert Teacher's Name Here said was true because they had a college degree and the bravery to stand in front of a bunch of slack jawed kids and try to teach them something. Well, have I got the book for you. Richard Zacks explodes our often mythic look at the world. This is not just another "your teacher lied to you in school" book. Zacks backs up his own You must think you are the cat's patoot, so sure you know everything. You paid attention in class, got good grades, and everything Mr. or Mrs. Insert Teacher's Name Here said was true because they had a college degree and the bravery to stand in front of a bunch of slack jawed kids and try to teach them something. Well, have I got the book for you. Richard Zacks explodes our often mythic look at the world. This is not just another "your teacher lied to you in school" book. Zacks backs up his own history with actual primary source documentation. As he writes, "I started muttering, 'You can't make this stuff up!'." Zacks has divided the book into ten different sections: Arts & Literature, Business, Crime & Punishment, Everyday Life, Medicine, Religion, Science, Sex, World History, and American History. While each section can be read separately, it may be hard to put down the book after just one helping. Zacks covers a wide range of topics, but always keeps his writing simple and unpedestrian. You quickly realize that all of these icons in history were actually people just like you and me. Mata Hari was no genius spy, her mug shot taken before her execution shows a plain woman in her early forties. William Shakespeare used to write down to his common audiences, letting loose with filthy puns lost on today's students. Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin, two of America's greatest humorists, both worked blue, writing material that you will not see in copies of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" or "Poor Richard's Almanack." You think Iraqi war profiteering is something new? Pity the poor soldiers of the Civil War, eating rancid meat and trying to fight with ancient weaponry all sold to the United States government by greedy business tycoons. Speaking of the Civil War, did you know that almost a million slaves held in the Union states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri were not freed until AFTER their enslaved brothers to the south? Thank the thirteenth amendment, since the Emancipation Proclamation only dealt with slaves in the Confederacy. The material covered is immense, from the race to build the first electric chair to the world's first indoor toilet. Hermaphrodites, bestiality, and a pope pushing cocaine laced wine, oh my! Zacks litters his text with photos, but they add to the prose. He lets his opinions be known often, from his outrage over the lynchings of the early twentieth century, to defending Amerigo Vespucci in light of criticism by others. Christopher Columbus does not get off as easily. He highlights the common as well as royal historical figures "An Underground Education" is a very good read. Once in a while, Zacks makes his point early, and a couple of vignettes run a little long (especially privateers in the Revolutionary War, and some of the business anecdotes), but the things you discover will outweigh any boredom you feel. If education is the key to success, then Zacks takes that key and breaks it off in the lock. (* * * *) out of five stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Johnson

    Back in '97 this was probably a pretty popular book. With all of the information conflicting with conventional wisdom, it was an eye opener for a lot of people. Now a days, it still does well. The beginning stuff is mostly known through one medium or another today. Drunken History writers might be a fan of this book. That show is great. The rest of the book is usually interesting, based on your interests of course. It tends to rely on salacious and illegal incidents to keep your attention, thoug Back in '97 this was probably a pretty popular book. With all of the information conflicting with conventional wisdom, it was an eye opener for a lot of people. Now a days, it still does well. The beginning stuff is mostly known through one medium or another today. Drunken History writers might be a fan of this book. That show is great. The rest of the book is usually interesting, based on your interests of course. It tends to rely on salacious and illegal incidents to keep your attention, though it does have topics that are more tame in subject. This is a book about things history didn't want you to know about, so expect a saucier side of the chalkboard. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys tidbits about history. It is a relatively quick read, depending on what holds your attention. I skipped past a few things when they felt boring, but that only happened a few times. I'm glad my friend hooked me up with an enlightening and entertaing book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    elstaffe

    3.5 rounds up to 4; this was a speedy and enjoyable read. Rating would be higher if I were more sure of the information being true. (The inclusion of the [false] "origin" of the phrase "rule of thumb" early on in the book made an impression.) Finding errors in this book made me call into question the accuracy of some of the anecdotes and facts related, but fortunately there's a solid references section to use as a booklist for further reading. (This might sound sarcastic but it isn't; I was legit 3.5 rounds up to 4; this was a speedy and enjoyable read. Rating would be higher if I were more sure of the information being true. (The inclusion of the [false] "origin" of the phrase "rule of thumb" early on in the book made an impression.) Finding errors in this book made me call into question the accuracy of some of the anecdotes and facts related, but fortunately there's a solid references section to use as a booklist for further reading. (This might sound sarcastic but it isn't; I was legitimately filled with joy to find title and author for further reading on some topics. Yes, I am a giant nerd.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Whitehead

    Here we have yet another one of these books that claims to fill in all the dark gaps in our educations. To the credit of author Richard Zacks, this effort actually does contain a few interesting if not exactly useful tidbits. If I have any objection to the book, it’s that it appears to be primarily composed of quick summaries of other people’s in-depth work, sort of a Reader’s Digest of the outré. Other than that, however, it’s a fairly amusing bathroom read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    cada gerrans

    This book was wonderfully weird. I think its a perfect bathroom book, or a perfect read for those with short attention spans. Its funny, and uncomfortable, and so weird to know that its all true. This book shows what humans are all about, and shows how absolutely weird they are. I'm not sure how to describe this book more in depth, but I would recommend it to most everyone (over the age of 15). Weird, wacky book.

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