The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 9, 2012

Linda Cannon: Trivia book lists first instances of myriad things

By Linda Cannon
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — I am a bit of a trivia nut, so I was pleased to see “Robertson’s Book of Firsts: Who Did What the First Time” by Patrick Robertson in the library.

According to the jacket, it is “The one-of-a-kind encyclopedia of the first time for everything, from advertisements to zippers.” Oddly, the first listing is not advertising, but (the first) “abortion, country to legalize” and the last is not zipper, but “zoo”.

I found it odd that they would fib about the book on its own jacket, and I can see why maybe they didn’t want to mention the actual first entry, but zoo? Maybe they’re afraid of PETA.

At any rate, it is pretty extensive, covering a lot of ground in more than 500 pages. The author apparently plans to continue to compile firsts, as he asks readers to contribute to supplementary future volumes.

As far as the listings are concerned, the first whatever in the world is covered, along with the first in the United States (when it isn’t the first, period).

For the rest of this space, I’ll cover some of the entries I found more interesting.

All in all, I found this an interesting book, although not one I would suggest reading cover-to-cover in a few sittings. It’s well-suited for browsing, but there is an excellent index to help you find specific information you’re interested in.

Happy reading!

Linda Cannon is the circulation supervisor and collection development librarian at Joplin Public Library.