Great book full of useful information on just about everything. The author feels that this is what every person should know in order to be a good citizen. Some of his thoughts are pretty dated however it is a great resource book to have on hand when you are wondering about just about anything (history, science, grammar, idioms etc...) Worth having around.
From an Amazon reviewer:
I found 'Cultural Literacy' to be a solid, informative reference. I originally hoped to sit down and read it straight through, but soon found it best to tackle the content piecemeal. My only real complaint is that I wish the entries were more in-depth. If you wanted to look up Goethe, for example, you would find only a few sentences on that extraordinary life. On the other hand, I think this book is ideal as a birthday or Christmas present for middle- and high-school students. It would help them understand the genealogy of ideas a little more, and provide them with an insight of why their everyday lives are the way they are.
Keep in mind this book is not magic - it will not turn one into Isaac Newton - but Hirsh holds up his end of the bargain in the author-reader relationship. The Bible section was particularly informative. Not only are persons of note mentioned there, but key quotations from the Bible are further explained as well. Students are not the only ones who can benefit from this work. Artists, writers, fledgling historians, trivia lovers, and avid readers all stand to profit. The topics are as numerous and varied as the nations of the earth. Buddhism, Sigmund Freud, Sitting Bull, and the Internet are all covered within.
Cultural literacy is the hidden key to effective education in America.Includes an appendix "What Literate Americans Know" compiled by Hirsch and colleagues.
Dr. Hirsch shows that cultural literacy-the graps of background information that writers and speakers assume their readers already have-is the hidden key to effective education in America.
Has a list of terms, quotes, titles, places, people literate Americans should know in the back of the book.