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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know
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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  497 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
In this fast-paced information age, how can Americans know what's really important and what's just a passing fashion? Now more than ever, we need a source that concisely sums up the knowledge that matters to Americans -- the people, places, ideas, and events that shape our cultural conversation. With more than six thousand entries,The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy is ...more
Hardcover, 672 pages
Published October 3rd 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1989)
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Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that belongs in every home, school, and library. It is NOT aimed at children (at least not the edition I have), nor is it intended to be a text book. It is a reference of most of the things that go into making the "culture" of today's world. Excellent background information and essential knowledge. I happen to have read it cover to cover, and found it endlessly interesting and thought provoking.
Paula Hartman-Carlo
May 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: career
I read this in preparation of the Foreign Service Officer Test. I have to say, it covers just about every possible subject. I found it very helpful and it was written in an easily understood manner. I'd recommend this to everyone, especially students.
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
The purpose of this work - an encyclopedia of stuff kids should learn - is a shameful way to approach education. (I bought this hardback copy for $0.75 a library book sale!)
Hank Hoeft
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I was in college, I had a roommate who prepared to take the MCAT by reading a dictionary in his spare time. I've never read a general dictionary myself, but reading The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know is almost as omnivorous and probably a lot more interesting. I am a big believer in the concept of "cultural literacy"--that is, the idea that to communicate intelligently with others members of one's culture, one needs not only a shared language, but a b ...more
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
The authors, in a previous book, indicate that there are specific facts that must be learned in order for people to communicate. Now I'm all for facts in school, but their method for choosing facts is simply what they thought was needed. On top of that, because they feel science is lacking in school, they add lots of science words. I know plenty of adults who wouldn't know half of those science words, but who all manage to communicate effectively anyway. I like the idea of the book, but I questi ...more
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teenagers and adults, not kids.
Not a book you read from cover to cover. It's a cultural dictionary for adults. I study a bit at bedtime. I love it! I've learned much from it. This book coupled with cross-referencing on the internet can lead to amazing wealth of knowledge.

This is not a kids book! The one some of the reviewers are referring to is this one..

J.  R.
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Contains chapters on idioms and proverbs as well as biblical literacy (and more, of course). It's a fun reference or coffee table book that I took from my parents house a long time ago and recently rediscovered during a bout of procrastination. I'm a huge dork, but I found the idiom chapter to be the most fun. Doesn't reference "what's good for the goose" though. Meh.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book brings out the nerd in me - not just a little, but a lot. Oh to have a book like this for every culture of the world! Important information for American natives, essential for those who desire integration or close communication with Americans.
Jul 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Want to know what every reference you've ever heard means? Start studying here. It doesn't explain every one for you, but gives you a good idea of where you need to start your research.
Thomas C.Curtis
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
This book had many great ideas, however ... I felt it was a little preachy.
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Eric Donald Hirsch, Jr. (born March 22, 1928) is an American educator and academic literary critic. Now retired, he was until recently the University Professor of Education and Humanities and the Linden Kent Memorial Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Virginia. He is best known for his writings about cultural literacy.
More about E.D. Hirsch Jr....