How to be a know-it-all

Be a polymath

The yearning for mastery, or, more cynically, the yearning for the illusion of mastery, has helped make a basically nerdy series from a basically nerdy publishing house impressively popular. Since the Very Short Introductions were launched, in 1995, they have collectively sold eight million copies and been translated into forty-nine languages.  Roughly fifty new titles are published every year; all told, the in-house list of topics to be covered currently runs to one thousand two hundred and fifteen. Nor will matters end there. In fact, matters will not end anywhere; its intended scope is basically limitless.

SOURCE: The New Yorker

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