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

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9780385479943: An Underground Education: The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Knowledge

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?  Or how Catherine the Great really died?  Or that heroin was sold over the counter not too long ago?

For the truly well-rounded "intellectual," nothing fascinates so much as the subversive, the contrarian, the suppressed, and the bizarre.  Richard Zacks, auto-didact extraordinaire, has unloosed his admittedly strange mind and astonishing research abilities upon the entire spectrum of human knowledge, ferreting out endlessly fascinating facts, stories, photos, and images guaranteed to make you laugh, gasp in wonder, and occasionally shudder at the depths of human depravity.  The result of his labors is this fantastically illustrated quasi-encyclopedia that provides alternative takes on art, business, crime, science, medicine, sex (lots of that), and many other facets of human experience.

Immensely entertaining, and arguably enlightening, An Underground Education is the only book that explains the birth of motion pictures using photos of naked baseball players.
Richard Zacks is the author of History Laid Bare: Love, Sex and Perversity from the Ancient Etruscans to Warren G. Harding, which was excerpted in classy magazines like Harper's and earned the attention of the even classier New York Times, which noted that "Zacks specializes in the raunchy and perverse."  The Georgia State Legislature voted on whether to ban the book from public libraries.  He has studied Arabic, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and Hebrew, and received the Phillips Classical Greek Award at the University of Michigan.  He has also told his publisher that he made a living in Cairo cheating royalty from a certain Arab country at games of chance, although the claim remains unverified.  His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, The Village Voice, TV Guide, and similarly diverse publications.  Zacks is married and busy warping the minds of his two children, Georgia and Ziegfield.  He resides in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at rzacks@echonyc.com.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Forget the history you were taught in school; Richard Zacks's version is crueler and funnier than anything you might have learned in seventh-grade civics--and much more of a gross-out, too. Described on the book jacket as an "autodidact extraordinaire," Zacks is also the author of History Laid Bare, making him something of an expert guide through history's back alleys and side streets. There's no fact too seamy or perverse for Zacks to drag out into the light of day, from matters scatological and sexual to some of history's most truly bizarre episodes. Curious about ancient nose-blowing etiquette? What about the sexual proclivities of Catherine the Great? Throughout chapters such as "The Evolution of Underwear" and "Dentistry Before Novocaine," Zacks proves a tireless debunker of popular myths as well as a muckraker par excellence.

From the Publisher:

Astonishing facts!

Bizarre photographs!

Fascinating & sometimes deeply weird true stories!

Just a small taste of the intellectual smorgasbord contained in this volume.

Did you know:

  • that in the original story of Goldilocks the bears torture and kill their impolite visitor?
  • that Pope Leo XIII appeared in an advertisement for cocaine-laced wine in the 1880s?
  • that people didn't eat with forks until the 1700s?
  • that Sir Isaac Newton's famous humble-pie quote "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" was actually written to a dwarf scientist named Robert Hooke and clearly meant as an insult?
  • that Thomas Edison secretly helped develop the electric chair in a scheme to have the lethal machine named after his arch-rival, George Westinghouse?
  • that the first pediatric guide written in the United States recommended that expectant mothers breastfeed puppies?
  • that for two centuries French scientists obsessively experimented on freshly decapitated heads in an effort to discover whether the bodiless brain still functioned?
  • that Cleopatra was ugly as sin?

  • "About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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