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Extended Audio Sample Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know Audiobook, by E. D. Hirsch Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (550 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: E. D. Hirsch Narrator: Barrett Whitener Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2007 ISBN: 9781455172139
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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. 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 bestseller that has engendered a nationwide debate on our educational standards, Cultural Literacy is required listening for parents, teachers, and anyone else concerned with our future as a literate nation. Included are five thousand essential names, dates, phrases, and concepts.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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.”

    New York Times

  • “Whitener gives the present work a clear, uncluttered quality, and his efforts to provide variety of tone and pace...are especially commendable.

    Audiofile

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel | 2/8/2014

    " An interesting topic. He thinks what you really need to know to be educated is just a few hundred phrases and concepts. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Parvoneh | 2/1/2014

    " This is some pro-establishment bullshit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea | 1/29/2014

    " This book is not enjoyable to read. It does have a very interesting thesis. The main idea in the book is that the education in America has changed in the last 100 years and the results are that children today struggle with reading and comprehension. Hirsch cites lots of research to validate his claim that reading and the comprehension associated with it require a certain amount of basic background information. The children with high vocabularies comprehend more of what they read. The vocabulary of literate people is cultural and held in common. It is the stuff everyone ought to know to understand words in our culture. He suggests that Educational policies need to change so that reading is related to information and not just a decoding skill. He has another book out called the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy which is like a dictionary of ideas/facts that literate people share in common in our culture which allow us to communicate with each other. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 1/23/2014

    " While I don't agree with everything that is stated as "fact" in this book, it does show how other cultures think and why certain parts of history are important to those different cultures. Josh and I are reading it together and it has spurned great conversations between us and our friends. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeffrey | 1/3/2014

    " This book was interesting in theory. But like a lot of "theory" books, difficult to get people to do what is suggested. This goes back to Plato's Republic where the "intelligentsia" was to lead the masses to a Utopian society. Nice thought, difficult to enforce. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lindsey (Babies, Books, and Beyond) | 1/3/2014

    " Interesting idea, but really boring. The only part I liked was the list at the end of all the things that all Americans should be able to recognize. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dom Zuccone | 8/3/2013

    " I liked reading this book, becuase I like books of lists and it was interesting idea that unfortunately turned into a franchise "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mimi | 7/7/2013

    " Compels me to take on a "What Every Filipino needs to know" descriptive journalism project. Don't steal the idea just yet! We can work on this together, whoever you are out there. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paula | 7/7/2013

    " Re-read this over the weekend.. Still a great book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 6/19/2013

    " I think this book should be required reading for everyone! I loved it so much I started a blog about it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shauna | 5/2/2013

    " This was more in depth than I was looking for, geared more toward professionals working in the field of educaiton. The Cultural Literacy Dictionary gives a summary of this book in the beginning and that was all I really wanted. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trudy | 10/4/2012

    " Interesting ideas : not phonics but background lead to comprehension. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tenley | 9/30/2012

    " This is an academic book, so it may not be the most exciting book to read, but it was very imformative and I thought Hirsch was spot on about what has happened to education in America and where it is currently heading. He gives a solid argument for what culturally literate Americans should know. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 7/9/2012

    " Interesting exercise in cultural values -- both for what it includes and for what it excluded. And interesting to watch it's popular and critical reception. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alan | 7/5/2012

    " I found this "list" approach tiresome. It was popular -- was it because those who read it were satisfied they knew what Hirsch thought they should? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marieli | 12/28/2011

    " In 13 years of school and 2 of junior college, there were a lot of days I wasn't paying attention or I wasn't ready for the subject. This is a great read to help us know and understand why we read and why we should go back and read some of the things we missed in our younger "wiser" days. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Teddy | 12/21/2011

    " Interesting and good book, but I wish they had added a little more detail about the items to know in the back so that you could use it as a study guide instead of just a list. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah Kades | 12/15/2011

    " E.D. Hirsch cuts through all the trends that weaken U.S. education and makes a sound argument for putting content ahead of pedegogy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Deb | 6/9/2011

    " Author made some valid points, but failed to acknowledge that cultural "norms" shift and evolve. Very much a WASP perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peter | 5/3/2011

    " possibly more relevant (pressing) now than when it was originally published... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug | 3/24/2011

    " Why it's so important we all share a common cultural education information in order to understand and to communicate in our society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel E | 3/6/2011

    " Awesome book about cultural values in America and how they are shaped by what we learn in school. The book also stresses the importance of learning cultural values and what defines cultural literacy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peter | 11/16/2010

    " possibly more relevant (pressing) now than when it was originally published... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 A | 10/23/2010

    " This should be taught in EVERY college english class if not high school! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 9/27/2010

    " Interesting exercise in cultural values -- both for what it includes and for what it excluded. And interesting to watch it's popular and critical reception. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah | 8/16/2010

    " E.D. Hirsch cuts through all the trends that weaken U.S. education and makes a sound argument for putting content ahead of pedegogy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dom | 7/12/2010

    " I liked reading this book, becuase I like books of lists and it was interesting idea that unfortunately turned into a franchise "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ruth | 5/24/2010

    " 251 pages. Donated 2010 May.

    In this forceful manifesto, Hirsch argues that children in the U.S. are being deprived of the basic knowledge that would enable them to function in contemporary society. Includes 5,000 essential facts to know. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug | 1/27/2010

    " Why it's so important we all share a common cultural education information in order to understand and to communicate in our society. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan | 8/26/2009

    " A good read with some compelling arguments. It is not the earth shattering text that it is often portrayed to be. Many of the concepts should and could be incorporated into more of our schools. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shauna | 4/24/2009

    " This was more in depth than I was looking for, geared more toward professionals working in the field of educaiton. The Cultural Literacy Dictionary gives a summary of this book in the beginning and that was all I really wanted. "

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About the Author

E. D. Hirsch, Jr., is a professor at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and the author of the bestselling Cultural Literacy and the The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.  He is also president of the nonprofit Core Knowledge Foundation, whose curriculum is followed by more than two hundred schools. Recent independent research on these schools has documented significant progress by both disadvantaged and advantaged students.

About the Narrator

Barrett Whitener has been narrating audiobooks since 1992. His recordings have won several awards, including the prestigious Audie and seven Earphones Awards. AudioFile magazine has named him one of the Best Voices of the Century. He lives in Washington, DC.