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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
WIll Cuppy's book has more laugh-inducing material per square inch than any other book on history, easily putting much better-known books (like those of Armour) in the shade. Mr. Cuppy is the most under-rated of all American writers in this century, because he wrote humor, and especially because so much of his humor is dry and requires a little thought on the part of the reader. (This last requirement doubtless is fatal for the sales and popularity of any book.) Will Cuppy's secret was to read ABSOLUTELY everything on a subject, known and obscure, and then write an essay of 1 to 5 pages about it. He knew how to skewer pretension, academic pedantry, and indeed all the excesses of the academic community better than any other writer. While he was at it, he also had great skill at exposing the foibles of his famous subjects. Like any humorist, he does not bat 1000, but when he hits, he is as funny as anybody else has even been.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book for anyone who enjoys, educated humor. Since history is my passion, I've found this book -- accurate, entertaining, and sharply witty -- to be a wonderful method of reflecting on serious courses in a different light. And yet those who dislike history lessons can expect to enjoy this too, from what I've heard. (Plebeians. ::cough::)
For those with a good sense of irony, sarcasm, and very dry humor, Willy Cuppy's comments (and the funny, tangential runoff of his writing, found in the footnotes of every page) feel almost tailor-made. There's a sense of very personal humor, as though you're party to a running monologue with this writer, in some warm room somewhere with burnished leather easy chairs.
It's just sad Cuppy didn't get the acclaim he deserved within his lifetime.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a scream, but I caution you: know your history before you pick it up and take it all for fact. The author makes free use of dubious sources for many of the people he writes about, but he does give a general historical overview of each person AND he is VERY funny. This is a good book for reading aloud to a friend or family member. (Again, though, it helps if the person to whom you are reading is also fairly well versed in history.)
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
I must have read this book twenty times at least, and I never get tired of it. Every time it seems just as funny, as Will Cuppy tells us about the lives of historical characters, from Cheops ( or khufu) through to Catherine the Great, taking in such diverse characters as Cleopatra, Attila the hun, Lady Godiva, henry the eight, John Smith, and miles Standish. His wonderful dry comments are hilarious, as on Charlemagne who was born in the dark ages when people were not very bright. They have been getting brighter and brighter ever since, until finally the are like they are now'Or on the American revolution , started because the colonists had to pay takes to which their consent had not been asked ' today we pay taxes but our consent has been asked, and we have told the government to go ahead and tax us all they want to. We like it'This is a sublime book, the one I'd take with me to a desert island if i had to choose only one.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2003
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is one of my favorite books to give to people who need a good laugh. Mr Cuppy writes with a very dry sense of humor, and knowing the intensity of his scholarship and research makes this all the more funny, because it's true! Don't miss the footnotes; they're the best part of this book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
In this and his various other books, Will Cuoppy he does a dead-on takeoff on what passed for "popular" history and science writing in his time. "The Decline and Fall..." is his masterpiece, a posthumously-published work on the failings and peculiarities of the famous and infamous in history. This is laugh-out-loud humor for the educated. This book is totally irreverent towards everything but the truth -- and even though it was written in the 1940s, it remains fresh and timely: Cuppy does not show us the builders of Western Civilization as heroes nor as villains, but as people who got into some very funny stuff (in all senses of the word). As soon as I discovered Cuppy I knew I had to get as much of his material as I could get my hands on -- and he has never disappointed me. Brainy and funny, this is an author deserving of being much better known.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody is a work of genius. Will Cuppy masterfully combines historical fact with his irreverent observations of various personages. Here are Cleopatra, King James, and Lucrezia Borgia as you've never seen them before, just to name a few. Not only will you burst your seams laughing, but you'll even learn something!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have bought this book numerous times and given it away. It is the most entertaining and arguably truthful history books I've read. It manages to make historical icons accessible and human. It is also painfully funny. It's too bad Will Cuppy couldn't have written more.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 1997
Format: Paperback
Wil Cuppy is a writer who is unafraid to tell you his opinion, and ready to tell you how someone else got it wrong.
His thoughts are out landish, and his comments wry. The sarcasm is driping off of every page,and anyone else is the room bound to ask why you are snickering uncontrolably. Share it with them.
The views on historical figures are interesting, fresh, and previously unheard of. I wonder why they never taught us these things in school.
This book was well planned and researched, and makes want to look up his sources, just to see if perhaps he made some of this up.
Despite the distaction of the hillarious footnotes, this is a quick and enjoyable book that I have scoured bookstores for, and sent to all of my friends.
I recommend that you grab any copies of this book you can get, becaue it is a hard find that is well worth the effort.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
My high school history teacher (who was no fool and knew his stuff better than some professors I met in college) gave me this book. His copy was the original thing-- almost falling apart from being loved by so many students. It managed to spark an interest in history in me, because quite frankly I have no patience for the "golden sheen" that so many people try to put on historical figures. Who on earth cares about someone who's so perfect you could never talk to them, anyway? Let's face it, the so-called "greats" were people with flaws and quirks just like we are! Bravo to Will Cuppy for having the guts and the skill to portray them in a way that makes us laugh and makes us question a little beyond the almost impenetrable veil of History.
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