All the Knowledge in the World: The Extraordinary History of the Encyclopaedia (Paperback)Simon Garfield (author)
The beloved author whose oeuvre has covered everything from maps to the colour mauve delivers a fascinating history of encyclopaedias, paying homage to those who invented this ground-breaking publishing phenomenon and thus allowed unprecedented access to information.
The encyclopaedia once shaped our understanding of the world.
Created by thousands of scholars and the most obsessive of editors, adults cleared their shelves in the belief that wisdom was now effortlessly accessible in their living rooms. Contributions from Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Orville Wright, Alfred Hitchcock, Marie Curie and Indira Gandhi helped millions of children with their homework.
But now these huge books gather dust and sell for almost nothing on eBay, and we derive our information from the internet, apparently for free. What have we lost in this transition? And how did we tell the progress of our lives in the past?
All the Knowledge in the World is a history and celebration of those who created the most ground-breaking and remarkable publishing phenomenon of any age. It tracks the story from Ancient Greece to Wikipedia, from modest single-volumes to the 11,000-volume Chinese manuscript that was too big to print. It looks at how Encyclopaedia Britannica came to dominate the industry and how an army of ingenious door-to-door salesmen sold their wares to guilt-ridden parents. It explains how encyclopaedias have reflected our changing attitudes towards sexuality, race and technology, and exposes how these ultimate bastions of trust were often riddled with errors and prejudice.
With his characteristic ability to tackle the broadest of subjects in an illuminating and highly entertaining way, Simon Garfield uncovers a fascinating and important part of our past, and wonders whether the promise of complete knowledge - that most human of ambitions - will forever be beyond our grasp.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 300 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 28 mm
Witty and geekily eclectic . . . celebrates encyclopaedias in all their quirky, leatherbound glory - THE TIMES
Simon Garfield's history of the encyclopaedia is full of jawdropping facts, and he turns what might have been a dry subject into an enjoyable, quirky, highly informative tour . . . fascinating - MAIL ON SUNDAY
A delightful romp through the history of trying to summarise all there is to be known. Simon Garfield displays his inimitable mix of curiosity, learnedness and wit - TIM HARFORD
Remarkable . . . engrossing. It is impossible to give readers an impression of the scope and power of Garfield's knowledge and imagination - SUNDAY TIMES
An erudite and amusing exploration of the human quest for knowledge - FINANCIAL TIMES
Simon Garfield's fascinating story of encyclopaedias is itself brilliantly encyclopaedic - DAVID CRYSTAL
All human life is here - and animal, vegetable and mineral life, too - HARRY MOUNT
A pleasure. Garfield writes fluidly, cheerily and charmingly, even while the breeziness does not detract from the scale of his ambition: to understand nothing less than humans' need for knowledge and how to convey and preserve it - THE SPECTATOR
Illuminating . . . An infectiously enthusiastic history, inspired by genuine affection - TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
A gripping story - so much I didn't know here! I loved this book - SARA WHEELER
Suitably encyclopaedic - written with all [Garfield's] usual wit and sharp eye for memorable facts - READER'S DIGEST
A valentine to the monumental significance of encyclopaedias, reminding us how, until the arrival of computers, "they did more than any other single thing to shape our understanding of the world". Illustrates Garfield's capacity to synthesise wide-ranging research and present it in a lucid, vibrant style with his characteristic eye for detail - IRISH EXAMINER
Delightful. Garfield's witty history captures the obsessive, quixotic and sometimes error-filled quests of those . . . who have attempted to corral all the world's information into a single source - NEW YORK TIMES
The life and death of the encyclopedia is recounted in Simon Garfield's excellent new book . . . Garfield is lucid, witty, learned and clearly a bibliomaniac . . . In All the Knowledge in the World, he has produced a lively threnody to the encyclopedic impulse . . . Impressively comprehensive - WALL STREET JOURNAL
A fascinating history . . . Lively and informative - WASHINGTON POST
Simon Garfield is the only author who could ever keep me up at night reading about encyclopedias. A brilliant book about knowledge itself - DEIRDRE MASK
Magnificent . . . The story [Garfield] tells is truly extraordinary . . . A perfectly styled work of literature - at times sad, at times funny, but always full of life . . . One of those few books that I've found impossible to put down - Vitali Vitaliev, ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY
Anyone fascinated by the origins, evolution and the ultimate mortality of print encyclopedias will love this book. All the Knowledge in the World is excellent at telling the long historical story of all encyclopedias, including those that predated Britannica. The book does a great job of detailing the 20th-century history of Britannica and the full story of Wikipedia's creation, challenges and impact - INSIDE HIGHER ED
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