by Andrew Brown
Encyclopedias have traditionally claimed to provide absolute knowledge, yet with information now among the world’s most valuable commodities, this Brief History is a timely consideration of how accurate that claim can ever be.
While the omissions and distortions of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia may seem easy enough to spot, what are those of, for example, the Britannica, the Universalis and the Brockhaus? And, moreover, is the encyclopedic project fundamentally flawed? Since the Middle Ages, rapid advances in science have made all encyclopedias effectively obsolete almost as soon as they are published. Has the age of online encyclopedias done away with this problem, or introduced new ones all of its own? A Brief History of Encyclopedias is a fascinating account of an unjustly neglected area of cultural history.