December 06, 2016 Articles

Book Reviews: On the Encyclopaedia Britannica

Two books take on the famous century-old Eleventh Edition.

By Dennis Owens – December 6, 2016

All There Is To Know: Readings from the Illustrious Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica

Edited by Alexander Coleman and Charles Simmons

Simon and Schuster


Everything Explained That Is Explainable: On the Creation of Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Celebrated Eleventh Edition

By Dennis Boyles

Alfred A. Knopf


Let us begin with this: I am not a book collector. Yes, my t-shirt from the Library of Congress recites Thomas Jefferson: “I cannot live without books.” My sweatshirt reads “So Many Books, So Little Time.” When our youngest child moved out of the house, many asked, “Are you going to be downsizing?” The answer was my library of some 16,000 books. Cathy and I gave, over time, in excess of 3,000 volumes to the Rockhurst University’s Greenlease Library in memory of dear friends who were Holocaust survivors. I have given many hundreds of books to seven law school libraries. I am giving hundreds to the faculty libraries at my college alma mater and hundreds to high school libraries. So, why am I not a “book collector”? Because I have never bought a book or set of books as an investment to resell later at a higher price. I do not buy rare books or first editions. 

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