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Don't Know Much About Mythology | [Kenneth C. Davis]

Don't Know Much About Mythology

Ever familiar and instructive, Davis shows why the ancient tales of gods and heroes, from Mount Olympus to Machu Picchu, from ancient Rome to the icy land of the Norse, continue to speak to us today, in our movies, art, language, and music. For mythology novices and buffs alike, and for anyone who loves a good story, Don't Know Much About Mythology is a lively and insightful look into the greatest stories ever told.
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Publisher's Summary

It has been 15 years since Kenneth C. Davis first dazzled audiences with his instant classic Don't Know Much About History, vividly bringing the past to life and proving that Americans don't hate history, they just hate the dull, textbook version they were fed in school. With humor, wit, and a knack for storytelling, Davis has been bringing readers of all ages up to speed on history, geography, and science ever since. Now, in the classic traditions of Edith Hamilton and Joseph Campbell, he turns his talents to the world of myth.

Where do we come from? Why do stars shine and the seasons change? What is evil? Since the beginning of time, people have answered such questions by crafting imaginative stories that have served as religion, science, philosophy, and popular literature. In his irreverent and popular question-and-answer style, Davis introduces and explains the great myths of the world, as well as the works of literature that have made them famous. In a single volume, he tackles Mesopotamia's Gilgamesh, the first hero in world mythology; Achilles and the Trojan War; Stonehenge and the Druids; Thor, the Nordic god of thunder; Chinese oracle bones; the use of peyote in ancient Native American rites; and the dramatic life and times of the man who would be Buddha.

Ever familiar and instructive, Davis shows why the ancient tales of gods and heroes, from Mount Olympus to Machu Picchu, from ancient Rome to the icy land of the Norse, continue to speak to us today, in our movies, art, language, and music. For mythology novices and buffs alike, and for anyone who loves a good story, Don't Know Much About Mythology is a lively and insightful look into the greatest stories ever told.

©2005 Kenneth C. Davis; (P)2005 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Ranges widely and with such sparkling wit....A superb starting point for entering the world of mythology." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (447 )
5 star
 (113)
4 star
 (138)
3 star
 (122)
2 star
 (50)
1 star
 (24)
Overall
3.9 (143 )
5 star
 (45)
4 star
 (54)
3 star
 (31)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (5)
Story
4.0 (145 )
5 star
 (63)
4 star
 (37)
3 star
 (33)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
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  •  
    Kermit Vale, New Caledonia 02-18-06
    Kermit Vale, New Caledonia 02-18-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    149
    3
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    "History isn't boring"

    Why did'nt our history teachers make it this interesting? Very engrossing book, covers not just the basics of mythology but why it enthralls us such. We are teased with the man behind the myth story telling method though he never quite finishes what he starts. Not only a history lesson but an indepth look at how these stories from the past have shaped both or present and future outlook on life. Truly entertaining.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 12-18-09
    Saud 12-18-09

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    581
    ratings
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    276
    215
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    FOLLOWING
    45
    71
    Overall
    "Amazing, Educational, Fascinating and Fun"

    For a long time, I was fascinated about mythology in general but didn't know where to start. Most published works cover only one mythology, or only a part of it. This book is an excellent compilation of the most important mythologies put together in a very approachable and fascinating way.

    Not only does it go through the most important points and beliefs of each mythology, but often compare and contrast them with one another, as well as will religious teachings (Noah's Ark and the Flood being the most common among all mythologies.)

    If you're planning to buy this book, I suggest you get the unabridged version. Highly recommended.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert van Nostrand Halifax, NS, Canada 01-18-06
    Robert van Nostrand Halifax, NS, Canada 01-18-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    53
    13
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    "Enlightening"

    I was really looking for a book on GREEK mythology, but this was very enlightening as it expanded the Mythology of the WHOLE WORLD. Egyption, Native Indian, you name it.
    Very enlightening.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chandler Bellevue, NE, USA 01-25-06
    Chandler Bellevue, NE, USA 01-25-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    63
    ratings
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    53
    6
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    "preachy"

    The book starts out great - not what I expected. It gives a history of the region (Greece, Rome, Africa, Americas, etc.) then gives some of the more popular beliefs and myths. Well done. But, wow - does he get on a soap box concerning the Americas. It really gets old and soures an otherwise good listen.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Cox San Diego, CA USA 09-18-06
    Michael Cox San Diego, CA USA 09-18-06 Member Since 2005

    Audiophile

    HELPFUL VOTES
    87
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    24
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    3
    81
    Overall
    "Superb"

    I could listen to John Lee read the phone book! Of course listening to him read this Superbly well done material is much more instructive.

    The use of BCE, btw, has become more common and while it may be more "PC", I, for one, prefer it to BC.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Plano, Texas 11-30-08
    Mark Plano, Texas 11-30-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
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    95
    13
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    Overall
    "This book is OK"

    I really enjoyed "Don't Know Much About History," so I thought I would go through the series, but this book was not as good. I did not enjoy the reader. I found his accent distracting and lacking in emotion.

    The first half of the book seemed pretty good. I followed the structure and could understand the links (maybe because I more familiar with the material). The second half seemed muddled. I found myself not wanting to turn on my MP3 player because I new what was waiting for me.

    If you really like myths, this might be a good book, but if you only have a passing interest, I might try something else.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Markus San Francisco, CA, United States 12-12-12
    Markus San Francisco, CA, United States 12-12-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    7
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    Story
    "Basicly information"
    What did you like best about Don't Know Much About Mythology? What did you like least?

    I really enjoyed learning new and surprising things, but those were few and far between in this book. I don't like how this book just throws a bunch of information at your head, without really organizing it in a meaningful way. At times it's really laborious and about as exciting as an almanac or phone book of mythology rather than something you actually want to listen to. This is an excellent book for those who absorb copious amounts of information for fun, but not for those who also expect some entertainment or thoughtful analysis. If you know just the basics of mythology its going to be a really long wordy recap.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Kenneth C. Davis? Why or why not?

    I am really discouraged, because he seems to me to just catalog information. I can go to wikipedia for that.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    It was read to fast for my brain. I had to o back the moment my attention lapsed.


    Was Don't Know Much About Mythology worth the listening time?

    Not really. But I came away with a few good morsels.


    Any additional comments?

    I am not sure I am going to finish it all the way. I am about 90% through, carried by the hope it might get better.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather bellingham, WA, USA 03-06-06
    Heather bellingham, WA, USA 03-06-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
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    14
    5
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    "learned a lot"

    I really liked this and have been recomending to all my friends. I learned so much about the history of so many cultures and their myths there were areas I wish had been covered a bit beter but all in all a great overview

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry J. Marshall Perth, WA Australia 01-31-08
    Barry J. Marshall Perth, WA Australia 01-31-08 Member Since 2005

    Medical Doctor Gastroenterologist and Infectious disease specialist Scientist. I collect calculators, I am learning Mandarin.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
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    14
    7
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    "Long and not what I expected"

    I thought this book would be full of stories about the greek mythology etc. It did not really seem to hit the mark although did go into some depth talking about all the various gods in different civilizations. So it was very long (three audiofiles) and not fantastically interesting. I am generous giving it a 3 I think. Maybe I will listen to it again as I can't really remember very many details of it!

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheila 03-12-07
    Sheila 03-12-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    74
    ratings
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    344
    25
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    "I Stopped Listening"

    I enjoyed reading "Don't Know Much About History" a few years ago, but listening to a book in this format is something entirely different. I couldn't get in to it and after a few hours I gave up on this book and wished I had picked something else.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 15 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Anne
    Dromara, Down, United Kingdom
    7/13/09
    Overall
    "Appalling pronounciation"

    Generally this book was reasonably entertaining if poorly reasearched in parts. For example St. George most certainly is not the patron saint of Britain. However the pronounciation is appalling. In particular the Irish pronounciation was so bad as to be offensive, how much effort does it take to get this right? I'd say not much especially seeing the narrator John Lee claims a hint of an Irish brougue to his speaking voice in his promotional blurb.

    Beware repetition of anything you hear on this audiobook.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • J
    sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    12/26/07
    Overall
    "don't know much? you will after listening to this!"

    This book is really intetresting. It is well read and draws you into the amazing world of mythology. There are explainations of why we need myths and of myths from all around the world. The book begins with a disclaimer stating that it does not cover many areas of mythology. This amazes me as it is so comprehensive that I cannot begin to imagine what can be missing. The book takes you on a journey around the world and conjures up pictures of many gods and heroes and their adventures, as made up by human beings from the beginning of time. Whatever you pay for this book it is worth it. I have listened to it about 5 times and still can listen again and not get bored. Its one of those books that you get upset about at the end because you don't know what you can possibly listen to next that will interest you as much. Reccomended buy.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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