How Did It Begin?: The Origin of Our Curious Customs and Superstitions
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How Did It Begin?: The Origin of Our Curious Customs and Superstitions

2.7 of 5 stars 2.70  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  20 reviews
"How Did It Begin?" is an entertaining look at why we do and say the things we do. — With his trademark curiosity and delight, Dr. Rudi Brasch delves into the forgotten meanings and fascinating origins of our cutsoms, traditions, superstitions, and phrases. — Divided into themes like courtship and marriage, table manners, and drinking customs, right through to the extraord...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published 2011 by MJF Books (first published January 1st 1993)
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I set the date to 1994 so this wouldn't count towards my 50 books, because I don't think I read this book as much as mentally raged against its existence. I most certainly didn't finish it. My time would be better spent watching the post-midnight fuzz on the public access stations.

I bought this book on a whim and because I thought it would be fun. I should have been more careful and checked the author, who is not a historian at all. Just a "ooh that sounds fun."

His "history" of superstitions is...more
This is one of those Barnes & Noble bargain books where they take a really old publication, slap a shiny new title on it, and sell it for $5 or less. This is a fun idea for a book, but most of the anecdotes are outdated and/or debunked, and there's not a single citation anywhere. I'll give it two stars simply because it's not badly written; it's just not something to trust.
May 02, 2014 Rob rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Brain dead monkeys
Shelves: wtf
There's just no way I could finish this book. The author doesn't even try to pretend to be objective and everything is in sore need of footnotes. How can you cover pink and blue for baby colors without even a hint that they were originally swapped?

This morning was the final straw, no way I can keep reading this book. Kissing as the possible vestige of bacterial conjugation? I think the authors are in serious need of drug testing, or at the very least, not writing the book 20 minutes before deadl...more
I read a lot of the reviews before starting this book and thought "surely it can't be THAT bad!"
The first several chapters I read and, though there were no citations, I enjoyed the book for what it was - a quick, easy, albeit potentially false, book of information to read just before bed.
Then... About eight chapters in, I just lost steam. It wasn't charming anymore. It was wordy, frustrating, and riddled with (I finally started seeing) the typos, outright incorrect information, etc.
All that t...more
This book is frankly a disgrace. It relies on anthropology that is thankfully on the way out. They use the older idea that women were always subjugated in the past (which is at odds with modern findings that ancient cultures were much more elgalitarian). They repeatedly refer to cultures with terms like "primitive" and "savages", which also tends to have racist overtones. They say they cover cultures of the world and then repeatedly and heavily focus on Western Europe. Did you know that a tour o...more
Steven Salaita
This book is garbage.

First, it's essentially a more pompous, less interesting version of wikipedia.

Second, like much other frivolous nonfiction passing itself off as serious, How Did It Begin? is a conduit for fanatical Zionism--pretending, as it usually does, to merely be innocuous factual material.

In a section about national flags and symbols, for instance, Brasch includes a discussion of Israel's national hymn (complete with rhapsodizing about the dreams of the Jewish people). Huh? Israel'...more
People really bashed this book. While it's not a 5 star read, you can find plenty of things of interest. Some things covered weren't particularly interesting, while others I felt like I wanted to know more.
Kathy Matts
This book is disappointing. It is a slow read and not as interesting as I had hoped.
Aaron Schmid
It was long and drawn out, boring, and I'm honestly not even sure how much of it was factual. I think this guy might've just made stuff up...he gives no sources and there is no bibliography. No wonder it was on Barnes and Noble's sale rack. I'm not sure if it would be unethical to resell this on ebay, haha. I would never suggest reading this...even if some things are true or would you ever know if it was actually legitimate?
Marisa Berman
Accept this book for what it is - interesting bits of folklore and here say that possibly explain common customs. This is not a book to be used as a historical reference. I would not recommend citing this book in an academic article or term paper - especially since there are no footnotes or even a bibliography. But it is still enjoyable and has some good claims.
Jeff Sedlak
Good book with A LOT of information. I found it very interesting to see where certain sayings, customs, and everday items came from.
It began fun with how our superstitions and wedding habits began but then we started going into architecture, religion, dress and pretty much everything else. It started just becoming facts. I might buy it when I have kids and they start asking "Why is it like this?" This way I can look it up and tell them! Over all okay.
Meredith Hull
I really liked this book. The segments were quick, to the point, and informational. I took off a star because I'm not sure I would have ordered the chapters in the same way and there does seem to be some repetition between segment explanations (as if they were written independent of one another then pulled together).
Taking the place of an ancient magical wand, the scepter was said to have been a branch from a sacred tree, if not the tree of life itself, which gave those wielding it supernatural power to control the world. (p. 184)
Fredrick Danysh
The author has collected superstitions, rituals, symbols, and customs and gives probable origins of them. In several instances alternative origins are suggested. This is mostly conjecture on the part of the author.
Carolyn Bunkley
Some of the "explanations" of the history behind many customs in this book seem as if the authors made up as they went along. Glad I only paid $3, sorry I couldn't get it for less.
Marc Leroux
May 29, 2013 Marc Leroux rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
Overly long, not that informative, not interesting to read and has any number of factually incorrect entries and/or urban myths reported as fact.
A really interesting book that is full of knowledge how some of our everyday activities began.
Some interesting facts. Some of which I had heard but some new twists on others.
No sources are documented. Every origin appears to be hearsay.
Eh. See criticism from other GR readers below.
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