I did the exam 3 years ago, and I completely agree with the breadth of the information you're talking about. Also, I agree with you about the Cisco training manuals.
However, I used the trainsignal videos, which would be less than 4.5 days of video in total, and it covered everything you need to know to do the course. I have significant experience with Cisco CLI so the simulators were a breeze.
I also found the test didn't cover the content to the n'th degree. All questions were of foundation knowledge in the subjects covered by the training materials. ie. If you read the materials once, then went and did the test, you stand a great chance of getting a pass score.
It did not ask obscure questions, and most multiple choice answers were obviously wrong (ie. no giving the OSPF timer as a potential incorrect answer for "what is the RIP timer default value") None of the incorrect answers in the subnetting multiple choice were common mistakes by transposing a single bit - if you make a simple mistake in your binary maths, the answer you calculated was not an option.
I think the Cisco course content is vast and difficult, the test, however is as easy as it possibly could be for that content.
I'd never touched frame relay, ospf or VTP but trainsignal covered more than enough, and stressed the test's common questions.
If you ignore Cisco's boring-as-hell books and subscribe to the CBTNuggets or TrainSignal/PluralSight training then spend a few hours testing yourself with the testking practice tests, it's very reasonable that someone with previous linux or networking experience could cram and pass the CCNA in a week.