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The Crossword Century

100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief

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Description

A journalist and word aficionado salutes the 100-year history and pleasures of crossword puzzles
 
Since its debut in The New York World on December 21, 1913, the crossword puzzle has enjoyed a rich and surprisingly lively existence. Alan Connor, a comic writer known for his exploration of all things crossword in The Guardian, covers every twist and turn: from the 1920s, when crosswords were considered a menace to productive society; to World War II, when they were used to recruit code breakers; to their starring role in a 2008 episode of The Simpsons.
 
He also profiles the colorful characters who make up the interesting and bizarre subculture of crossword constructors and competitive solvers, including Will Shortz, the iconic New York Times puzzle editor who created a crafty crossword that appeared to predict the outcome of a presidential election, and the legions of competitive puzzle solvers who descend on a Connecticut hotel each year in an attempt to be crowned the American puzzle-solving champion.
 
At a time when the printed word is in decline, Connor marvels at the crossword’s seamless transition onto Kindles and iPads, keeping the puzzle one of America’s favorite pastimes. He also explores the way the human brain processes crosswords versus computers that are largely stumped by clues that require wordplay or a simple grasp of humor.
 
A fascinating examination of our most beloved linguistic amusement—and filled with tantalizing crosswords and clues embedded in the text—The Crossword Century is sure to attract the attention of the readers who made Word Freak and Just My Type bestsellers.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 02, 2014 – The puzzle columnist for the Guardian, Connor celebrates the first 100 years of the ubiquitous black-and-white pencil game with a lighthearted overview. From the crossword’s first appearance in the 1913 New York World to Wordplay, the 2006 documentary about the annual American crossword solving contest, each bite-size chapter covers a different aspect of the pastime with emphasis on 20th-century influences such as from caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, humorist P.G. Wodehouse, and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The global fever took off in 1924 with publication of the first puzzle collection by a fledgling publishing house now known as Simon & Schuster. While the crossword changes shape from country to country, the passion for solving remains a constant. Connor credits the crossword’s universal popularity to the fact that the inventor didn’t copyright the idea, which would have entailed royalties. Those who resort to looking up answers will especially appreciate Connor’s chapter on cheating, in which he opines, “there’re no Marquess of Queensberry rules” in this arena, so no rules can be broken.
The Crossword Century
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Reference
  • Published: Jul 10, 2014
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 208 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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