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Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions Through the Ages [Kindle Edition]

Leland Gregory
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Why exactly is Paul Revere revered? Was the lightbulb really Thomas Edison's bright idea?

* Best-selling author Leland Gregory employs his masterful wit to expose historical myths, faux "facts," strange events, and tales of human stupidity throughout history.

If it would shock you to learn that Benjamin Franklin didn't discover electricity, you'll appreciate this take on hundreds of historical legends and debacles. Historians and humorists alike may be surprised to learn that:

* Samuel Prescott made the famous horseback ride into Concord, not Paul Revere.

* As a member of Parliament, Isaac Newton spoke only once. He asked for an open window.

* On April 24, 1898, Spain declared war on the U.S., thus starting the Spanish-American War. The U.S. declared war the very next day, but not wanting to be outdone, had the date on the declaration changed from April 25 to April 21.

With these and many other stories, leading humorist Leland Gregory once again highlights both the strange and the funny side of humankind. 

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The jokes, wacky anecdotes, and inane quotes in Leland Gregory’s Stupid-themed anthologies showcase the best of human nature at its worst. Through his Twitter handle of @ChronicStupid, Leland shares headlines, quips, and unbelievable feats of folly culled from print, online, and broadcast media around the globe. He has authored more than a dozen humor titles, including What's the Number for 911? and the New York Times best-sellers Stupid American History and America's Dumbest Criminals.  A tireless promoter, he has made hundreds of radio and television appearances, including multiple appearances on NBC's Today show. 

Product Details

  • File Size: 1399 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B001E3YFP8
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC (June 15, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004OVET3A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,735 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light reading on a weighty topic! June 11, 2007
I really enjoy trivia and I really enjoy history so it was nice to see them combined in a really funny collection. This is a collection of entertaining short, historical tales flavored with pieces of trivia and stupid acts through the ages. Leland Gregory has also peppered these narratives with "punny" jokes that are sure to make you crack a smile.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Book December 13, 2007
I usually read history books exclusively, but ran across this one and thought, "Why Not?" This was very funny as well as informative. You'll learn a lot and laugh a lot. All you fellow history buffs should lighten up and read this one.
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106 of 126 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stupid History is, indeed, stupid February 14, 2010
Reading this book is like reading a poorly-researched blog by someone who has a love for puns but doesn't actually have the ability to make a good pun. (For the sake of this review, we'll leave aside the argument of whether there actually is such a thing as a good pun.) The "tales of stupidity, strangeness, and mythconceptions" are each a paragraph long, set in a large font on a single small page -- or, if the author couldn't come up with two whole sentences for an entry, sometimes there's more than one to a page.

There are so many things that could have made this book better. One is simple organisation: the tales are in no order whatsoever, so factoids about US history are mixed in with corrections of commonly-held beliefs about Roman history. Organising the book into sections would have drastically improved the readability and enjoyability of the book. Another thing that could have drastically improved the book would be actually getting the facts right. The author makes several assertions that are incorrect. If you're going to try to correct the record, at least get it right. And finally, the humour in the book is lame. The entries are peppered with immensely bad puns. The stupidity stands on its own; the embellishments from the author just detract from it.

The idea isn't bad, but the execution is. Hopefully someone more able will come along and do a better job with this idea.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stupid History Indeed December 21, 2010
By Sean
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title doesn't lie. This is a book of stupid, easily disproven trivia, often with an absurd Amerocentric or Eurocentric slant. Among the highlights:

* It's impossible to fight in chariots since the reins require two hands. Luckily ancient cultures were smart enough to design -- get this -- chariots with room for passengers. Gregory claims Hollywood invented this "myth" -- apparently in his world, Homer was a script writer, considering the numerous examples of chariot battles in the Iliad.

* Lizzie Borden didn't kill her parents. The evidence for this claim -- why she was acquitted. Just like Klaus von Bulow and OJ Simpson.

* Horseshoe crabs "are survivors of a species that became extinct 175 million years ago." Leaving aside the question of how this is "history," how exactly can an extinct species have survivors? Maybe he means that they're descended from a species that is now extinct, but then so are humans.

* He gives a really garbled interpretation of what the Emancipation Proclamation accomplished, followed by that Lincoln quote that neo-Confederates like to throw around because, removed from context, it makes Lincoln sound like a political opportunist who didn't care about slavery.

* "On November 8, 1918, the United Press Association reported that Germany had signed a peace agreement, thereby bringing World War I to an end.... But the story was wrong. It all started when someone, now believed to be a German secret agent, called the French and American intelligence offices to report that Germany had signed an armistice.... The war did't officilally end until June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versaille[sic]." Technically correct, but otherwise wrong.
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266 of 331 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but Plagued by Misstatements of Fact July 11, 2010
Pretty entertaining, and I'm a sucker for historical misconceptions, but there are a few glaring problems with this book.

First, a couple of tales that he presents as "fact" are misleading. For example, an early tale in the book states that Lizzie Borden, famous axe murderer, was actually unanimously found innocent by the jury, implying that the famous rhyme about her is just a historical misconception. However, there is a big difference between a "not guilty" verdict and actual innocence. It is widely believed that her defense attorney was able to manipulate the sexist views held by jurors of the time (1893) to play into their view that there was no possible way this sweet young woman could have committed the crime. The judge also excluded her unsuccessful attempt to purchase cyanide shortly before the murders, and her entire original inquest testimony. At the time of her arrest, police noted that she was eerily calm and did not seem to exhibit any shock or sadness at the brutally axe-murdered bodies of her parents. In short, at best Borden's guilt is questionable, and it's certainly interesting that a jury found her innocent, but to present that verdict as a "look, she was actually innocent" tale is such an incomplete picture that it's dishonest.

Second, another of his supposed "facts" is in reality just a conservative rant about the Constitution disguised as fact. He states that there is no separation of church and state because that specific phrase does not appear anywhere in the Constitution, gives his own opinion on the policy justification for the establishment clause, then states that "no one, not even the courts, takes the time to read it." Yeah, okay.
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More About the Author

Leland Gregory is the New York Times Bestselling author of "Stupid American History" and "America's Dumbest Criminals." He is also author of the National Bestsellers, "The Stupid Crook Book," "What's The Number for 911?" and "Stupid History." Leland is a former writer for Saturday Night Live, has written and sold a screenplay to Disney, optioned a screenplay to Touchstone and has written for a variety of magazines from Readers Digest to Maxim. A tireless promoter, he has made hundreds of radio and television appearances, including multiple appearances on NBC's Today show. Leland lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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