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The Mental Floss History of the United States: The (Almost) Complete and (Entirely) Entertaining Story of America Hardcover – October 5, 2010
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“A cavalcade of delicious facts, surprising trivia and refreshingly honest, hilariously smart-alecky insight that finally sets the wayward historical record straight.” (AmericanProfile.com)
“[B]reezy, bullet-pointed and well illustrated.” (Financial Times)
From the Back Cover
Smarter than a history teacher, funnier than the Founding Fathers, and more American than Alaska, an almost (but not entirely) comprehensive primer on American history (or at least, the good stuff)
In trademark smart aleck style, this is history according to mental_floss, an insightfully accurate and incisively humorous exploration of little-known truths and widely believed falsehoods, which simultaneously exposes some of America's oddest moments, strangest citizens, most egregious frauds, and much, much more.
Ten meaty chapters, peppered with fun trivia, entertainingly cover the essential timeline of the social, political, and cultural happenings of American history and mythbust all the lies teachers told us along the way. Was Abraham Lincoln really a heroic defender of liberty and freedom? Were the Sixties actually a groovy time of peace and love? Has the U.S. always been dependent on foreign oil? mental_floss sets the record straight and shares the fascinating stories behind politics, literature, fashion, televangelism, serial killers, genetic engineering, Yuppies, SPAM, the original Swine Flu, potato chips, rollerskating, mobsters, rum, communists, beaver wars, the rise and fall of irony, and everything else made in the U.S.A.
More About the Author
A shy, withdrawn child ("loser"), Erik spent many of his formative years reading about history. Ironically, the knowledge he acquired transformed him from mopey misfit to man-about-town; now much sought after for his historical anecdotes, he is considered an indispensable conversational ornament to any party attended by persons of substance.
A giver, Erik also works with mental_floss to share these benefits with others. In addition to the present volume, he was a contributing author for mental_floss presents: Forbidden Knowledge, and also writes about history for mental_floss magazine.
Erik has not vomited on the shoes of government officials or their spouses; however, he has vomited on his own shoes more than once.
Top Customer Reviews
But we both love this book. We are leery of myth-busting-pop-history- bathroom-reading type books because they often get too snarky or they twist and distort facts for entertainment's sake (or worse, for an agenda's sake.) So when my wife saw me reading this book, she immediately grabbed it out of my hands and flipped to her strongest historic subjects. Immediately she said "Aha, this isn't right!" followed by a little more reading and, "Well actually that is a pretty good description of how it happened." A half hour later she handed it back to me announcing "this is actually pretty good, let me know when you're done." (This is also where she pointed out that teachers don't lie.)
I've had a real hard time putting it down since I received it. The writing is humorous, occasionally chuckle out loud funny. Some of the humor comes from sarcasm and subtle jokes, but most of it comes simply from ironic historic truths. Life really is stranger than fiction some times.
As for the book's claim for near completeness, it is impressive. It covers a huge range of stories and keeps returning to subjects like fashion, religion, culture, economics, and of course politics through different periods of US history. From big to small it covers everything from King Phillip's War to hoop skirts to the invention of potato chips to things as obvious as World War II.Read more ›
There was no works cited page; I would think the authors have to mention the sources who provided the information used in the book. Maybe it'll be in the final edition.
The tone is a bit snarky, which I liked. I don't mean that in a bad way; it seems to me the authors assume people reading the book have a sense of humor, and that made this book both informative and lively.
It covers the gamut of American history, from 25,000 years ago to 2009.
I see this as a "bathroom book," one to peruse and flip through while taking care of nature's business. Again, that's not a derogatory comment. People use "Readers Digest" for the same reason.
And even though I'm pretty well-versed in history, I did learn some new facts (I was especially fascinated how FDR arranged to get all that Saudi Arabian oil in 1945; that I did not know).
A book that's entertaining and worth your time. I'm glad I flipped through it and learned something.
Obviously, with the nature of the book being quick snippets of information, there are things that were glossed over. September 11 got a little more than two pages, Katrina got only two and a half pages. I thought those could have been bigger sections but perhaps because they're so recent and I feel personally affected by these, I lend more importance to them? Obviously a massive amount of information will be left out if you're trying to cram the entire history of the United States between 400 pages speckled with clip art and graphs. That said, I thought their coverage of the wars were pretty good.
I found myself taking this book wherever I went (doctor's offices, my kid's swimming lessons) because it was easy to open to any ol' page and dive right in.
I learned a lot about history due to this book and enjoyed it immensely.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the most biased, "dumbed down" book on American History I have ever encountered and I have taught history for 15 years. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Leslie A. Lawley
Like all Mental Floss books, you hate to finish 'em! Excellente!Published 3 months ago by Brian Mcmanus
I am a historian, actually a history professor. This is a good book.Published 3 months ago by A Book Club, We Read Everything
I love the Mental Floss history books. All the things you didn't learn in history class!Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Very entertaining book with a lot of fun information. Not a very heavy "history" read, more of a casual, fun read. Great for all ages, young to old.Published 6 months ago by M. Walker
The cover gives it away. This book a cute and entertaining history of the United States, but like a fast food, it's filling, but not that great. Read morePublished 8 months ago by BillDD