Rating: 4 out of 5
I’ve liked Mr Elledge’s articles for a long while and this book is a somewhat natural extension to those. The rambling style where unimportant questions with interesting answers are followed to their conclusions makes for an educating read both in news articles as well as in this book.
However, and though I should have expected this, the very broad scope of the book also makes it more difficult to value. I would have appreciated something that would have gone very in depth in a few subjects as opposed to a fairly shallow coverage of relatively many issues. Especially as the author’s speciality lies in finding the minor details that relate to a question, I think he could have pulled that off very well—possibly better than this book.
The subject matter—as noted above—is pretty much everything: the stars, planets, countries, rivers, and people to name a few things. In some ways, an adult-oriented book of this kind is very welcome and a good refresher to the lists and names one learns in youth. It is also worth mentioning, however, that as some of the information we have improves, things (numbers of countries, how rivers’ length is measured, number of planets, etc) can change and this makes Mr Elledge’s take on the general facts of the world a worthy addition to one’s library.
Overall, I’m a fan of the author and though I think his main skill lies in writing a slightly different type of work, this one is well worth one’s time and effort!