History Book

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, December 3rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

Today, the 30th anniversary of a devastating earthquake in Armenia. Plus, a missionary kid and homeschooler wins the Heisman Trophy.

EICHER: But first, 250 years ago this week, the first publication of a new kind of dictionary. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today with December 6th, 1768. The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica is published in Edinburgh, Scotland. Other encyclopedias existed before the Britannica, but none of its predecessors attempted to systematically cover all major subjects of human knowledge.

The original three volume publication promised “accurate definitions and explanations, of all the terms as they occur in the order of the alphabet.” The second edition increased to 10 volumes and quickly became the standard of knowledge, earning a reputation for its rigorous editorial standards.

Many people have tried to read the entire encyclopedia, but few have succeeded. A.J. Jacobs read the entire 15th edition, about 40 million words, on nearly 230,000 topics. He wrote about the experience in his 2014 book: “The Know-It-All.”

JACOBS: I’ve definitely forgotten a lot, a huge amount, 97, 98 percent maybe, but there’s so much stuff left in there…

After 244 years of publication, the Encyclopedia Britannica announced in 2012 that would no longer publish print versions of the the set—focusing instead on digital products and internet delivery.


Next, December 7th, 1988, 30 years ago this week. A 6.9 magnitude earthquake hits the Soviet Republic of Armenia. ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings:

JENNINGS: Based on what the International Red Cross knows, they believe that 30,000 people may have lost their lives, maybe more.

Officials blame poor construction materials and sloppy building techniques for the high number of casualties. Some buildings and bridges survive the quake, but many hospitals are completely destroyed, killing many doctors and nurses—leading to a huge shortage of healthcare providers in the country.

A Soviet newscast describes the destruction.

SOVIET NEWS: According to preliminary estimates, the quake of unprecedented strength destroyed two-thirds of the city of Leninakan.

Despite Cold War tensions with the West, Mikhail Gorbachev formally requests humanitarian assistance from the United States. More than 100 other countries join in as well.

And finally, December 8th, 2007:

TEBOW: I would just like to first start off by thanking my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who gave me the ability to play football…

University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow wins the Heisman Trophy.

TEBOW: I’d like to thank my teammates back at home…

Gator Tim Tebow is not only the first sophomore to win the trophy, he’s also the first homeschooler to do so. The fifth child of Baptist missionaries, Tebow says his family and faith made his success on the field possible.

TEBOW: Well, I had a strong family, and a family that, you know, put the right priorities in front of me when I was young. A dad who put character in front of me and lived it out daily and a mom who taught me Scripture verses every day…

During his college football career, Tebow often wore Bible verse references on his eye black. He sported “John 3:16” during the 2009 BCS national title game. For the next 24 hours, it was the highest-ranked Google search term, generating over 90 million searches.

NFL HIGHLIGHT REEL: As for Tim Tebow, he was slinging it…

Tebow’s professional career was short lived. He played two seasons with the Denver Broncos, but the team released him to make room for Peyton Manning. Tebow then had brief stints with the Jets, Patriots, and Eagles before moving to the broadcast booth.

TEBOW: If there’s any team that can stop Alabama’s offense, it’s this Georgia defense…

Today the 31-year-old is a double-A player in the New York Mets farm system where he’s still a fan favorite.

BASEBALL ANNOUNCER: Batting 8th in left field, #15, Tim Tebow…

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Ángel Franco, The New York Times) A set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the shelves of the New York Public Library.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “History Book

  1. Howard West says:

    “The Encyclopedia Britannica announced in 2012 that would no longer publish print versions of the the set”

    That is why I have three different sets Encyclopedias! Google/Wikipedia and their Ratio-nalistic (if enough people agree it must be true! Then the truth of the past must be wrong) approach to knowledge is numbing the minds of people.

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