BookBrowse Reviews The Know-It-All by A. J. Jacobs

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The Know-It-All

One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

By A. J. Jacobs

The Know-It-All
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2004,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2005,
    400 pages.

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Sardonic wit juxtaposed with oddball trivia. Non-Fiction

 This is an excellent book to read cover to cover or just to dip into at anytime - we keep our copy in the bathroom!

Britannica is the oldest continuously published reference work in the English Language. It had its birth in Edinburgh, Scotland in the late 18th century (a period known as the Scottish Enlightenment),  Colin MacFarquhar, a printer, and Andrew Bell, an engraver, decided to create an encyclopedia for the new era and formed a 'Society of Gentlemen' to publish the work.  They hired William Smellie, a 28 year-old scholar, to edit it.  Their aim was to create an encyclopedia that would be arranged alphabetically and "compiled upon a new plan in which the different Sciences and Arts are digested into distinct Treatises or Systems."

Just like the Oxford English Dictionary (which was begun sometime later in 1861), Britannica was ...

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