Family Reference Books: Encyclopedia Britannica Information

About the Encylopedia Britannica a reference book recommended for all families, history of the educational books.

Recommended for the Family Reference Shelf

ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA

"Since 1768," wrote Herman Kogan, "Britannica has served the cause of education and enlightenment in placid times and in periods of tumult. . . . In all that time its principles have withstood change . . . [especially] one basic principle--to insist on the authenticity and reliability of its contents."

Although the old 24-volume 14th edition of Britannica, which sold 3 million sets, was revised 41 times (with 10% of it revised annually), the authenticity and reliability of its contents came under fire. At least one critic, a student of the Britannica named Dr. Harvey Einbinder, after studying its 42,000 articles, found that 666 articles were 50 to 100 years old and had never been brought up to date. He found errors in articles on Galileo, Napoleon at Waterloo, the Old Testament, Homer, Verdi, Heat, and Vaporization.

In 1957, the board of editors undertook a totally new version of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Today, after an expenditure of $32 million, the new Britannica has replaced the old. In 3 parts and 30 volumes, the 42 million words of the 15th edition used enough paper to circle the equator 16 times.

Exactly 4,277 contributors from 131 countries wrote material for the new 15th edition of the Britannica. Among the contributors: David Ben-Gurion on Herzl, Albert Einstein on Relativity, Norgay Tenzing on Mount Everest, Arnold Toynbee on Julius Caesar, Oswald Jacoby on Poker.

As George Steiner summed it up in The Sunday Times of London: "We have here an immensely stimulating, uneven, lavishly produced, and philosophically intriguing pandect of the world.... In essence, this new Britannica is an act of rational gaiety.... The phrase has been flattened to a commonplace, yet we should not forget its ancient magic: here, truly, is a 'book of life'."

And finally it is a book of unquestionable authenticity and reliability, one recommended to all who are interested in learning. To give you some idea of the new Britannica's range and quality, we have posed a half dozen questions (all limited to biography) and then attempted to show you through brief summary and excerpt how the current Encyclopaedia Britannica has answered them.

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