The first ever Guinness Book of Records was bound on August 27th, 1955. It was a 198 page book that was an instant success, and became the number 1 best-seller in Britain before Christmas. The whole concept stemmed from a disagreement over which was the fastest European game bird, the golden plover or the grouse. Now it's published in 40 different countries and 37 foreign languages. Sales of all editions passed the 75 million mark in 1994, and should be over 100 million today!
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The Guinness Book of World Records is an excellent book, containing loads of information on all sorts of things. It has facts on everything from famous people to big business, from nature to art, from sports to body parts, and everything in between. Guinness has transatlantic research teams located in London, England, and Stamford Connecticut, who research new records all the time. They give us the latest records, as well as whole new categories, like computers, which was added in 1998.
The Guinness Book of World Records contains curiosities, wonders, extraordinary feats, and accomplishments, such as Richard Noble's breaking of the land speed record, and Nordic skier Bjorn Daehlie winning an eight gold medal at the Nagano Olympic Games. From the richest cat, Blackie, who was left $15 million in the will of his millionaire owner Ben Rea, to the heaviest person in medical history, Jon Minnoch of Bainbridge Island, Washington, who was 6 ft. 1 in. tall and weighed in at more than 1,403 pounds.
Guinness records every single world record that ever existed, and all were verified by the Guinness team. Guinness Publishing Ltd. has a very thorough accreditation system for records verification. Depending on which edition you purchase, this can be hundreds of pages of information on just about anything and everything you can imagine. 336 pages in the 1999 hardcover edition I have. Not all world records make it into the Guinness Book of World Records though. There are thousands and thousands of records in the Guinness database. They can only put so many into one book, so they choose the ones that they think the public will find most interesting. If you want to visit the Guinness website, you can find it at www.guinnessworldrecords.com. At the website, you can look up world records by category, or search them out in the search field.
This is really the only book worth buying if you want to read about world records. It has so much information, you wouldn't even believe it. In fact, it's hard to believe some of the stuff that is in there. People from all around the world doing extraordinary things just for the sake of doing them better than everyone else!
There are many colored photographs and illustrations in the hardcover 1999 edition I have. Many of these are pictures of the actual thing involved in the record, such as the man with the longest hair, the woman with the longest fingernails, or the fattest cat on earth. There are multiple pictures on every single page of the book.
They also have a new Television series, titled 'The Guinness Book of World Records: Primetime', which airs Fridays at 9:00pm EST on Fox. This show brings world records right to your eyes, as you watch people in their attempts to set or break a new world record. Last time I watched it, they had a lady, on a unicycle, balancing bowls on her foot, and then flipping them onto the top of her head. She had well over 20 bowls before they fell. She flipped more than one bowl at once a few times, including one time when she flipped five bowls at once, which all managed to fall to the top of her head in a neat stack! Note that it likely no longer airs at the same time and channel, if at all; as it's been a few years since I originally wrote this review. You'll likely find it on somewhere though, and it was a nice little show!
They are always looking for new categories and new records to add. The 1999 version introduces a new sports reference section, and paralympics records. Think you can break one of the records you read about? You can get your name in the Guinness Book of World Records! There are a couple of pages near the end with information on how to go about it. If you really want your name in, it could be easier than you think!
They have records for all sorts of things that normal people can do; some records are for the largest collection of four-leaf clovers, or light bulbs for example. The bare minimum requirements are two independent witness statements from people of some community standing, such as a doctor, lawyer, elected official or police officer.
Overall, I find the Guinness Book of World Records to be an excellent book, and recommend it to anyone. The book has been around forever, and has only improved over the years. It has earned a great name for itself, and I can see why. I don't think there is anyone in the United States who hasn't once read through at least some of it. I've buy a new edition every few years, and I'm about due for a new one any time now. :)
If you like the show Mythbusters or Ripley's Believe it or Not, you should certainly pick this book up and give it a read.
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