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September 27, 2005

Book Errors & Corrections

Viktor Koen/NYT Book Review

This week's New York Times Book Review carries an interesting essay by Nora Krug about the frequency of errors appearing in books, and the infrequency of corrections. Some of Krug's observations include:

Corrections in books are rare. But the conclusion this implies -- that books rarely contain errors -- it itself incorrect. Books are not usually corrected because they can't be, not because they shouldn't be. . . .

But even small errors can lead to large problems. "The historical error can be very much like the virus that spreads from book to book," [Author Ron] Chernow said. He cites a line attributed to Hamilton in books for 150 years -- "Your people, sir -- your people is a great beast!" -- which he said since been shown to be hearsay reported 71 years after it was supposedly uttered.

Falsehoods like these seep into the record, infecting newspapers and magazines, which often rely on books as main sources.

Posted by TS at September 27, 2005 03:12 AM


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