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The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. A National bestseller, The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy has been widely acclaimed for identifying and defining the core body of knowledge that no literare American should be without. Now in this...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

The REAL scoop

This book is an excellent resource, although because of the number of references, it cannot go into depth on many. But if you are looking for a general understanding of a concept, person, or phrase ingrained in American culture, you will find it here.I fear that many critics of this book chastize it for its failure to include persons or events near and dear to their hearts. While I am sympathetic to that concern, the reader must understand that this book is akin to a popularity contest of culture, with the most commonly used/understood concepts rising to the top. This is actually a good thing, although it seems shallow at first blush. As the authors note, the ability to communicate/read well stems from shared understanding. This book succeeds by providing what, at a minimum, should be known by someone because most literate Americans also know it. The authors, in fact, do not suggest we educate ourselves only within the confines of this book, or take its ideas as intrinsically more valuable. Rather, they say only that this is where we must start. If my friends from abroad asked me what single best reference would prepare them to interact intelligently in America, this would be it.


While not an in-depth examination of topics and more a survey of general knowledge the text is a MUST HAVE for any person wanting to be culturally literate. I discovered the book in the Reference Section of my local and college library. Especially useful for High School Students preparing for College entrance exams,Students/Teacher about to take their General Knowledge test for the NTA (National Teacher's Exam) and Teachers who want to offer the CORE of whats important! Great Buy Great Price!

A first-rate leader source

One of the other reviewers suggested that this book was too simplistic, and I suggest that is its very appeal. It is not overly simplistic, in my opinion, and having used it for several years now I have yet to spot a glaring defect or error. For example, last night I needed to refresh my recollection on the distinction between an analogy and a metaphor and a simile. Using two different dictionaries (and fifteen minutes) I was still a bit uncertain. Then I turned to this book and had the distinction clarified for me in 30 seconds. As other reviewers have suggested, it really does make for great reading just flipping through the pages. You'll learn all sorts of interesting tid-bits of information, and obviously if you want to elaborate upon your understanding, you can then hit your full-on encycplopedias, etc.

An invaluable reference

This book is unbelievably useful and germaine. I initially purchased it to prepare for taking the Jeopardy! test (it's recommended by some of the champs), but it's usefulness goes far beyond that. Nobody can learn everything, and we all go through life not quite understanding that one mythological reference, parable, euphemism, historical reference, or slang term. It's all here in this one book! You will be unbelievably well grounded for existence in American society if you have this volume. Although it's great for looking up unknown references, I'm reading it from cover to cover and can't put it down.
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