• Cultural Literacy

  • What Every American Needs to Know
  • By: E.D. Hirsch Jr.
  • Narrated by: Barrett Whitener
  • Length: 9 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-14-05
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.5 (47 ratings)

Regular price: $18.80

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Publisher's Summary

In this forceful manifesto Professor E. D. Hirsch, Jr., argues that children in the United States are being deprived of the basic knowledge that would enable them to function in contemporary society. They lack cultural literacy: a grasp of background information that writers and speakers assume their audience already has. Thus even if a student has a basic competence in the English language, he or she has little chance of entering the American mainstream without knowing what a silicon chip is or when the Civil War was fought. A major best seller that has engendered a nationwide debate on our educational standards, Cultural Literacy is must listening for parents, teachers, and anyone else concerned with our future as a literate nation.
Click here to listen to E. D. Hirsch, Jr.'s The Schools We Need.
©1987 Houghton Mifflin Company (P)1995 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Critic Reviews

"Fascinating reading, particularly when we bear in mind that...it is an attempt to establish what all culturally literate Americans actually know, not what they ought to know....Mr. Hirsch's proposal merits serious consideration." (The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Marcus Vorwaller on 08-06-06

Interesting Theory

The premise for this book is that in order to be literate, one must not only be able to read but properly understand the context of things mentioned in conversation by literate people. Literate people assume at least a basic knowledge of certain things and build everything else in conversation and education upon that basic knowledge. The authors are pushing for education that imparts knowledge of the things that are assumed to be understood by literate people.

It's an interesting listen. The text is academic and somewhat repetitive, but by the end of the book you clearly understand their very convincing argument. I'd consider this a very important book for parents and educators--if not to take and apply what the authors suggest, at least to be aware of it.

The last several hours of the book are almost worthless. The narrator reads a list from A-Z of the topics the authors consider important to be culturally literate. There is no conceivable way someone could listen to that for 4 hours. It's like reading the dictionary minus definitions. Aside from that, that list is freely available (updated with definitions) elsewhere online.

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24 of 24 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Dawn on 02-16-13

Is this narrated by a robot?

How could the performance have been better?

The narration sounds like some technological process was applied to squeeze out the pauses between words. It is very disconcerting and sounds like it was read by a computer program rather than a real person.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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