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Giampi
05-20-2012, 07:12 PM
Lately I've been looking for information on the Inca civilization, and a friend suggested that I read The Empire of the Incas by Miroslav Stingl, saying that that book is the "definitive tome" on the subject. This got me thinking about whether or not there are definitive tomes on other subjects as well, by which I mean books (single tomes or volumes, either or, I guess) that tell you everything you need to know about a particular topic.

(And since I'm thinking about it, I want you guys to talk about it)

So, what are some "definitive tomes" on topics that you guys know of? I'll go ahead and mention Dr. Stingl's work again. Have at it!

Pombar
05-20-2012, 11:22 PM
It's actually riddled with errors, uncommonly-held opinions and bizarre leaps of logic, but Robert Graves's two volume Greek Myths are pretty much the definitive starting points for understanding the canon as it stands and as we are aware of it today, as well as providing a good explanation and demonstration of how Myths morph over time, and how several of what we know as separate Myths are in fact rooted in the same tale or tradition, or tied to less extravagant metaphorical retellings of actual historical events.

ThornGhost
05-21-2012, 12:39 PM
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by Walker Evans is probably the definitive pictorial history of the Great Depression.

fugu13
05-21-2012, 08:01 PM
Boswell's Life of Johnson is probably the definitive example of a biography.

The OED is the definitive thing to start with when you want to know about a word.

Just some that sprung to mind upon reading the thread. I'm thinking over some others I might include.

Sanagi
05-21-2012, 09:31 PM
Gödel, Escher, Bach is the best book at being whatever it is Gödel, Escher, Bach is about.

I thought about making this post into some kind of recursive acronym or something but I couldn't be bothered.

christoffing
05-22-2012, 04:33 PM
The Communist Manifesto is the definitive book on absolutely everything