From Hank Aaron to King Zog, from Mao to Madonna, Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes is a collection of more than 4,000 entries and the best source for anecdotes on the market. Featuring more than 2,000 people past and present from around the world, in all fields of endeavor, these short anecdotes provide remarkable insights into the human character. Ranging from the humorous to the solemn, they span ancient history, recent politics, modern science, and the arts. Each entry includes a brief biography followed by one or more notable, lively, and insightful anecdotes, which always deliver a punch of the unexpected.
Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes features:
- More than 4,000 entries arranged alphabetically
- a complete list of sources for every entry
- a full bibliography
- an index of names
- an easy-to-use subject index, for finding anecdotes under a particular topic
Anecdotes entertain, highlight history, and reveal character. William Ellery Channing even claimed, "One anecdote of a man is worth a volume of biography." A good collection of anecdotes shows just how diverse the minds of men and women can be. General Editors Clifton Fadiman and Andre Bernard have assembled the definitive anthology of anecdotes -- a gold mine for students, a great resource for public speakers, and a bookshelf necessity for the curious browser. Thoroughly researched and conveniently organized, Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes conducts the reader on an informal tour through history and human nature at their most entertaining and instructive.
From Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes:
Alexander the Great was puzzled to find Diogenes examining a heap of human bones. "What are you looking for?" he inquired.
"I am searching for the bones of your father," replied the philosopher, "but I cannot distinguish them from those of his slaves."
When Elizabeth Dole was appointed secretary of transportation by President Reagan in 1985, magazines covered the Dole marriage -- she as cabinet member, he as powerful senator. After a photo ran that showed them making up the bed in their apartment, a man wrote a complaining letter to Bob Dole, praising Elizabeth's skills but adding, "You've got to stop doing the work around the house. You're causing problems for men across the country." "You don't know the half of it," Dole wrote back. "The only reason she was helping was because they were taking pictures."
(ROBERT DOLE 2)
Dorothy Parker once collided with Clare Boothe Luce in a narrow doorway. "Age before beauty," said Mrs. Luce, stepping aside. "Pearls before swine," said Dorothy Parker, gliding through.
(DOROTHY PARKER 15)
A certain distinguished astronomer once declared at a scientific meeting: "To an astronomer, man is nothing more than an insignificant dot in an infinite universe."
"I have often felt that," said Einstein. "But then I realize that the insignificant dot who is man is also the astronomer."
(ALBERT EINSTEIN 14)
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Little, Brown and Company
September 20, 2000
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Excerpt from Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes by Andre Bernard
Aaron, Henry Louis ["Hank"] (1934--), US baseball player. He broke Babe Ruth's home-run record, hitting 755 in all.
1 During the 1957 World Series, Yankee catcher Yogi Berra noticed that Aaron grasped the bat the wrong way. "Turn it around," he said, "so you can see the trademark." But Hank kept his eye on the pitcher's mound: "Didn't come up here to read. Came up here to hit."
2 Aaron, who surpassed Babe Ruth's "unsurpassable" home-run record of 714 home runs in 1974, never saw any of his famous hits flying through the air. While running to first base he always looked down until he touched the bag, feeling that "looking at the ball going over the fence isn't going to help."
3 Asked how he felt about breaking Ruth's record - an achievement that was both admired and somewhat controversial given the great reverence and affection Ruth inspired even years after his death - Aaron said, "I don't want them to forget Ruth. I just want them to remember me!"
4 Aaron was known as a hitter who rarely failed, the bane of pitchers. As a pitcher on a rival team once said of him, "Trying to sneak a pitch past Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak a sunrise past a rooster."
Abernethy, John (1764--1831), British physician.
1 A titled gentleman who consulted Abernethy was received by the great doctor with the rudeness for which he was notorious. The patient lost his temper and told Abernethy that he would make him "eat his words." "It will be of no use," responded Abernethy, "for they will be sure to come up again."
2 When Abernethy was canvassing for the post of surgeon to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, he called upon one of the governors, a wealthy grocer, in the man's shop. The grocer loftily remarked that he presumed Abernethy was wanting his vote at this important point in his life. Nettled by the man's tone and attitude, Abernethy retorted, "No, I don't; I want a pennyworth of figs. Look sharp and wrap them up. I want to be off."
3 "Mrs. J-- consulted him respecting a nervous disorder, the minutiae of which appeared to be so fantastic that Mr. A. interrupted their frivolous detail by holding out his hand for the fee. A -1 note and a shilling were placed into it; upon which he returned the latter to his fair patient, with the angry exclamation, 'There, Ma'am! go and buy a skipping rope; that is all you want.'"
4 Despite his brusqueness with his private patients, Abernethy was conscientious and kindly toward the poor under his care in the charity hospital. Once as he was about to leave for the hospital, a private patient tried to detain him. Abernethy observed, "Private patients, if they do not like me, can go elsewhere; but the poor devils in the hospital I am bound to take care of."
5 A patient complaining of melancholy consulted Dr. Abernethy. After an examination the doctor pronounced, "You need amusement. Go and hear the comedian Grimaldi; he will make you laugh and that will be better for you than any drugs." Said the patient, "I am Grimaldi."
6 Abernethy was renowned for his dislike of idle chatter. With this in mind, a young lady once entered his surgery and, without a word, held out an injured finger for examination. The doctor dressed the wound in silence. The woman returned a few days later. "Better?" asked Abernethy. "Better," replied the patient. Subsequent calls passed in much the same manner. On her final visit, the woman held out her finger, now free of bandages. "Well?" inquired the doctor. "Well," she replied. "Upon my word, madam," exclaimed Abernethy, "you are the most rational woman I have ever met."
Acheson, Dean [Gooderham] (1893--1971), US statesman and lawyer; secretary of state (1949--53).
1 On leaving his post as secretary of state, Acheson was asked about his plans for the future. He replied, "I will undoubtedly have to seek what is happily known as gainful employment, which I am glad to say does not describe holding public office."
2 In April 1963 Winston Churchill was made an honorary citizen of the United States. At the ceremony in the White House, his letter of acceptance was read by his son Randolph, as he himself was too frail to attend. It contained a passage rejecting the idea that Britain had only a "tame and minor" role to play on the international scene. Dean Acheson recognized this as an oblique allusion to his own famous and greatly resented remark that Britain had lost an empire and failed to find a new role. "Well, it hasn't taken Winston long to get used to American ways," commented Acheson. "He hadn't been an American citizen for three minutes before he began attacking an ex-secretary of state."