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The Book of Firsts by Ian Harrison
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The Book of Firsts

by Ian Harrison

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THE brain is like a room full of books and, generally speaking, most of us have only one volume in that personal library of acquired knowledge.

The more you learn, the larger your book will grow, so a primary school child would be looking at a Roald Dahl-sized missive, a matriculant will stretch to a Harry Potter, and a postgraduate should fill a Bible. Adults generally have free rein to fill our mental bookshelves with whatever subjects interest us most.

The Book of Firsts — “The stories behind the outstanding breakthroughs of the modern world” — is ideal for people who collect interesting, useless facts simply because, to paraphrase George Mallory on Mount Everest, they are there. With nearly 300 beautifully illustrated, well-written pages, complete with coloured fact boxes, this book is too good to languish in a reference library: it is something you will want to own.

Divided into 10 sections, topics range from Food and Drink to Medical Achievements to Communication: gourmands will start at Human Endeavour and read all the way through to Sporting Milestones at the end, but a fussy gourmet might confine himself to, say, Trade and Technology.

Everyone who has filled a Harry Potty-sized tome will know Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon in 1969 and Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space in 1961, but this book reminds us Laika the dog was the first living creature in space, in 1957.

The English Channel was not swum until 1875, and the globe was first circumnavigated in 1522 in a journey that began in 1519.

Much of the technology surrounding us is much older than you might think, while common everyday items — such as matches and teabags — are recent inventions. The first computer programmer dates back to the turn of the 18th century and was a woman; the first laptop computer was launched in 1983.

Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly, 1814, is regarded as the first historical novel; the first detective story is claimed to be Edgar Allan Poe’s 1841 Murders in the Rue Morgue, and Jules Verne’s A Journey to The Centre of The Earth, 1864, is considered to be the first work of science fiction.

The first washing machine was designed in 1885, and the first country to grant women the right to vote was New Zealand, in 1893.

Full of fascinating, useless bits and bobs of information, this book is wonderful lavatorial literature. ( )
  adpaton | Nov 20, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0762104740, Hardcover)

Find out who did what first in this compelling, informative look at great achievements and discoveries, from the first pizza delivery to the first submarine. Loads of fun for the whole family, this entertaining book, organized by type of breakthrough, includes the stories and amazing facts behind each accomplishment.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Illustrated reference to who did what, when and how first.

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