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The Encyclopedia: One Book’s Quest to Hold the Sum of All Knowledge

February 07, 2023
00:00 32:54
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What if one book could contain the sum of mankind’s knowledge? Scholars and chroniclers have tried to write this book since antiquity, penning several so-called universal histories (perhaps the best was Rashid al-Din’s “Compendium of the Chronicles” that was commissioned by a Mongol Empire daughter state in 14th century). This goal was reached in 1768 with the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published in Scotland by Enlightenment thinkers who believed that human thinking could be categorized. It became a fixture of American households in the 19th century and occupied the bookshelves of every library and school in the United States until very recently.

Today’s guest is Jill Lepore's show, host of the show “The Last Archive,” about the US's post-truth crisis -- of how we know what we know and why it seems lately as if we can't agree on anything at all. She both reckons with the present moment through her historical expertise and also presents solutions that are forward and current.

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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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