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What are the Seven Wonders of the World?:
Historic trivia is fascinating stuff. The secret to great trivia reporting is not just in the gathering of the details, however, but in the presentation. Organization is vital, because without an appealing structure, the mind won't grapple with the facts. The human brain needs an inviting presentation to wrap around any new information, and this is what D'Epiro and Pinkowish have done. It's why their compilation of 107 cultural questions is so beguiling.
The elemental secret of their innovative table of contents is the use of numbers. Starting with three and working their way up (with a gap here and there) to 24, they pose a series of intriguing questions which are then answered to everyone's satisfaction on the indicated pages. What are the three Laws of Thermodynamics? Who were the three Furies? and What are the three ages of Vico's historical cycle? These are the sorts of queries they present in the chapter entitled Three. Further chapters inquire after the four properties of a musical tone, the six flavors of quarks, the seven Virtues, the 12 Labors of Heracles, the 14 Points of Woodrow Wilson, and the unofficial Homeric titles of the 18 chapters of Ulysses.
While the questions are appealing in and of themselves, the answers are even better. Going far beyond mere lists, they delve into the histories and texts, the theories and significance of each. The question is the hook, but the answer is the prize, riveting you with more information than you'd anticipated, reminding you of the joy of learning. --Stephanie Gold [via]