What?: Book summary and reviews of What? by Mark Kurlansky

What?

Are These the 20 Most Important Questions in Human History--Or is This a Game of 20 Questions?

by Mark Kurlansky

What? by Mark Kurlansky X
What? by Mark Kurlansky

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Book Summary

What is What? Could it be that noted author Mark Kurlansky has written a very short, terrifically witty, deeply thought-provoking book entirely in the form of questions? A book that draws on philosophy, religion, literature, policy-indeed, all of civilization - to ask what may well be the twenty most important questions in human history? Or has he given us a really smart, impossibly amusing game of twenty questions?

Kurlansky considers the work of Confucius, Plato, Gertrude Stein, Shakespeare, Descartes, Nietzsche, Freud, Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, the Talmud, Charles de Gaulle, Virginia Woolf, and others, distilling the deep questions of life to their sparkling essence. What? supplies endless fodder for thoughtful conversation but also endless opportunity to ponder and be challenged by - and entertained by - these questions in refreshingly original ways.

As Kurlansky says, In a world that seems devoid of absolute certainties, how can we make declarative statements? Without asking the questions, how will we ever get to the answers? "Why are we here? Why is all of this here? Why do we die? What is death? What does it mean that outer space is infinite and what is after infinity? What is the significance of birdflight, why does matter decay, and how is our life different from that of a mosquito? Is there an end to these questions or is questioning as infinite as space?" With his striking black-and-white woodcut illustrations throughout, this handsome volume is a tour de force that packs a tremendous wallop in a deliciously compact package.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"What at first appears to be a slight, merely quirky book - Hey, look! This guy phrases every sentence as a question! - sneaks up on us and, in the end, leaves us with a new appreciation for the power of the question mark." - Booklist

The information about What? shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Mark Kurlansky Author Biography

© Lisa Klausner

Mark Kurlansky was born in Hartford, Connecticut.  After receiving a BA in Theater from Butler University in 1970, and refusing to serve in the military, Kurlansky worked in New York as a playwright, having a number of off-off Broadway productions, and as a playwright-in-residence at Brooklyn College. He won the 1972 Earplay award for best radio play of the year.

He worked many other jobs including as a commercial fisherman, a dock worker, a paralegal, a cook, and a pastry chef.

In the mid 1970s, unhappy with the direction New York theater was taking, he turned to journalism, an early interest – he had been an editor on his high school newspaper.  From 1976 to 1991 he worked as a  foreign correspondent for The International Herald Tribune, The ...

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Name Pronunciation
Mark Kurlansky: ker-LAN-ski

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