Sale – An Underground Education: The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew Ab out Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human

An Underground Education: The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew Ab out Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human

The best kind of knowledge is uncommon knowledge.

Okay, so maybe you know all the stuff you’re supposed to know–that there are teenier things than atoms, that Remembrance of Things Past has something to do with a perfumed cookie, that the Monroe Doctrine means we get to take over small South American countries when we feel like it.  But really, is this kind of knowledge going to make you the hit of the cocktail party, or the loser spending forty-five minutes examining the host’s bookshelves?

Wouldn’t you rather learn things like how the invention of the bicycle affected the evolution of underwear?  Or that the 1949 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to a doctor who performed lobotomies with a household ice pick?

List Price: $ 17.95

Price: $ 17.95

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  • Charles Tatum  On November 15, 2011 at 4:44 am
    98 of 102 people found the following review helpful:
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    An Underground Education (Zacks), January 21, 2004
    By 

    You must think you are the cat’s patoot, so sure you know everything. You paid attention in class, got good grades, and everything Mr. or Mrs. Insert Teacher’s Name Here said was true because they had a college degree and the bravery to stand in front of a bunch of slack jawed kids and try to teach them something. Well, have I got the book for you.

    Richard Zacks explodes our often mythic look at the world. This is not just another “your teacher lied to you in school” book. Zacks backs up his own history with actual primary source documentation. As he writes, “I started muttering, ‘You can’t make this stuff up!’.”

    Zacks has divided the book into ten different sections: Arts & Literature, Business, Crime & Punishment, Everyday Life, Medicine, Religion, Science, Sex, World History, and American History. While each section can be read separately, it may be hard to put down the book after just one helping. Zacks covers a wide range of topics, but always keeps his writing simple and unpedestrian. You quickly realize that all of these icons in history were actually people just like you and me. Mata Hari was no genius spy, her mug shot taken before her execution shows a plain woman in her early forties.

    William Shakespeare used to write down to his common audiences, letting loose with filthy puns lost on today’s students. Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin, two of America’s greatest humorists, both worked blue, writing material that you will not see in copies of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” or “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” You think Iraqi war profiteering is something new? Pity the poor soldiers of the Civil War, eating rancid meat and trying to fight with ancient weaponry all sold to the United States government by greedy business tycoons.

    Speaking of the Civil War, did you know that almost a million slaves held in the Union states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri were not freed until AFTER their enslaved brothers to the south? Thank the thirteenth amendment, since the Emancipation Proclamation only dealt with slaves in the Confederacy.

    The material covered is immense, from the race to build the first electric chair to the world’s first indoor toilet. Hermaphrodites, bestiality, and a pope pushing cocaine laced wine, oh my!

    Zacks litters his text with photos, but they add to the prose. He lets his opinions be known often, from his outrage over the lynchings of the early twentieth century, to defending Amerigo Vespucci in light of criticism by others. Christopher Columbus does not get off as easily. He highlights the common as well as royal historical figures

    “An Underground Education” is a very good read. Once in a while, Zacks makes his point early, and a couple of vignettes run a little long (especially privateers in the Revolutionary War, and some of the business anecdotes), but the things you discover will outweigh any boredom you feel. If education is the key to success, then Zacks takes that key and breaks it off in the lock.

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  • Juniperwoman  On November 15, 2011 at 5:26 am
    23 of 24 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    This is a stellar, stellar book, just…, January 19, 2005
    By 
    Juniperwoman (Portland, Oregon USA) –

    …be warned. If you’re like me, you’ve read the reviews and you can think of half a dozen people you would like to buy “An Underground Education” for as a present. How perfect for Larry, John, and Dad.

    Well, maybe not Dad. I had intended to buy this for my father as a Christmas present, but when I received my copy, I realised that there was a problem. “An Ungerground Education” is littered with photographs. There are castrated men (full frontal) & lots of early porn and all sorts of other fascinating and freaky things. It’s all very interesting, except that I cannot even begin to imagine giving it to my father… It’s still a good read, though, and I highly recommend it. Just not as a gift for ol’ Dad.

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  • Anonymous  On November 15, 2011 at 5:55 am
    51 of 59 people found the following review helpful:
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Average At Best, March 13, 2000
    By A Customer

    An Underground Education has an admirable premise: fill us in on, or disabuse the reader of, various myths, misconceptions, suppressed facts, the “Arcana Mundi.” And indeed, Richard Zachs does this with some skill, energy and wit. However, the information contained in the book, despite being divided by topics such as politics, art, and of course, sex, is too brief: By trying to touch on just about everything under the sun (or should I write, hiding in the shadows?) in the less-pristine history of humanity, the author falls prey to his own dislike of ignorance, dogmatic teaching, and general ineptness among supposed scholars and luminaries.

    For example, in his discussion of the long-toed shoes, or poulaines, which he rightly places after his juicily giddy discussion of codpieces, he fails to explore the equally juicy history of the poulaines; European folk beliefs equated foot-fize with penis-size (think also of noses…) and the tips of the poulaines were thus phallic symbols. The tops of poulaines were also often painted with images of male genitals.

    The author also fails completely to discuss (was he even aware) the female-analogue of the codpiece: the merkin, or a wig for the pubes…One has to dig for this sort of information. To look at the bibliography, the author consults with, at most, two or three sources when writing his entries. In effect, he has done little of his own research, despite crowing about his own linguistic abilities. Ovid’s Ars Amatoria surely belongs somewhere in this book; sadly, Latin is not listed as one of the author’s mastered languages. There are good translations, to be sure.

    Another example: Mr. Zachs labors to tell us about Joan of Arc’s clothing, and correctly points out the her then-crime of wearing men’s clothing; and also that she died at the hands (or whims?) of France and the Holy Catholic Church. However, he fails to strip away the saviour/warrior myths of St. Joan. She was an extraordinary young woman in many ways, but she was not at all like the statuesque Milla Jovovich hacking her way through the enemies of France. Mr. Zachs simply has not bothered, in several instances, to question his own assumptions and erroneous teachings, and this harms an otherwise entertaining and at times biting social commentary.

    Other nit-picking: Either his editor was asleep, or Mr. Zachs himself missed the boat again and again when going over the galleys before the final printing: weird punctuation, odd word-choice and usage, fanciful grammer. This could have been a much better book, had he narrowed his scope, looked more deeply into his subjects, and learned how to punctuate.

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