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Our Dumb Century (Running Press Miniature Editions) Hardcover – May 11, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 256 customer reviews

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The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Every Wednesday, work at Amazon.com--along with just about every other company connected to the fantastical "information superhighway" invented by Vice President Al Gore and actress Hedy Lamarr--grinds to a halt as employees hasten to read the latest issue of The Onion, America's most popular newspaper based in Madison, Wisconsin. But most of the paper's fans have started reading it only within the last few years, and are sadly unaware of The Onion's mighty journalistic legacy. To combat this cultural illiteracy, Editor in Chief Scott Dikkers and his writing staff have assembled this collection of great front pages from the last hundred years. Here is just a sampling of the headlines:

A New Century Dawns! McKinley Ushers in Bold New "Coal Age"

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria Boasts: "No Man Can Stop Me"

AWESOME! Nation Wowed by Tremendous Hindenburg Explosion

Martin Luther King: "I Had a Really Weird Dream Last Night"

Clinton Denies Lewinsky Allegations: "We Did Not Have Sex, We Made Love," He Says

And those are just the headlines; the stories themselves are all masterpieces of the journalist's trade. Of course, readers with delicate sensibilities may find some of these accounts a bit too risqué, and perhaps even tasteless. (Among the potential offenders: Rosa Parks's decision to "screw this bus shit" and take a cab.) But if you're looking for an antidote to all the 20th-century hoopla promulgated by stuffed shirts like Peter Jennings and Harold Evans--not to mention the best history book since 1066 and All That--then Our Dumb Century is the one for you. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

The Onion, a weekly newspaper out of Madison, WI, has established a hugely popular presence online with its laugh-out-loud mixture of sophomoric irreverence and savage satire. This book continues the Onion's missionAfrom 1900 to 2000Awith mock front pages twisting each year's signal events. 1906: "Should U.S. Set Limits on Indian Slaughter?" 1915: "Henry Ford Unveils New Line of Anti-Semitic Autos." 1933: "Stalin Announces Five-Year `Everybody Dies' Plan." 1942: "Ladies, Negroes Momentarily Useful." 1956: "U.S. Sexual Repression Reaches Boiling Point." 1976: "Cambodia to Switch to Skull-Based Economy." 1998: "Drugs Win Drug War." Though some articles will offend the delicate and a few fail to fulfill the promise of the headlines, this is terrific stuff. Even the graphics and asides have bite, like the "Countries Overthrown by the CIA Today" list from a 1964 issue. For all public libraries and academic libraries concerned with political humor.ANorman Oder, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Running Press Miniature Editions
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press Miniature Editions; Book and Access edition (May 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762418664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762418664
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey A. Veyera on March 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
For those of us who live in Wisconsin, one of the few bennies is close proximity to ground zero for the Onion, one of the strangest (not to mention funniest) free publications anywhere.
If you haven't been clued in to what the Onion does, it is a dead-on, straightfaced parody of American newspapers. It is beautifully crude and sophomoric in a manner Mad magazine no longer aspires to, and for readers looking for some deathly funny satire in this politically-correct, can't-we-all-just-get-along, sissified age, it is a lighthouse in a stormy sea.
So what's Our Dumb Century about? It is a parody of those fin-de-siecle commemoratives most major newspapers put out last year, ignorant of the fact that we still have a year left in the 20th century.
The book allegedly reprints the front pages of the last 100 years of the Onion during critical times in the nation's history. The writers accurately ape the style of newspapers throughout this period, from the cluttered text columns of the early 1900s to the graphic-intensive layouts of today.
Of course it's the stories themselves that hit you where you live. 1902-"Republics Negroes Still Waiting for 40 Acres, Mule--Agriculture Secretary Faults Low Mule, Acreage Availability at Present." 1918-"Corpse-Eating Rats Now Largest Military Force in Europe." 1934-"FDR Creates 300,000 Jobs With 'Tunnel to New Zealand' Project." 1945-"Hitler Commits Suicide; Ravaging of Europe a 'Desperate Cry for Help', Say Therapists." Or my favorite from 1963-"Kennedy Slain by CIA, Mafia, Castro, LBJ, Teamsters, Freemasons--President Shot 129 Times from 43 Different Angles." Oliver Stone was right!
If you're up for slaughtering some sacred cows with a smile and have more of a sense of humor than your typical Thought Police apparatchik, this may be the book for you.
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Format: Paperback
The Onion is satire at its very best - I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who has been looking for a refreshing cocktail of intelligent humor mixed with pop cultural references.
This book contains the most savagely keen and witty commentaries on American culture I have EVER read. Not only has this book consistently made me <literally> laugh so hard that tears came rolling from my eyes - but it also made me rethink some of my long held perspectives on U.S. history and world events.
Every concise, perceptive, hilarious article (and there are hundreds) is a masterpiece! Everyone with a sharp wit and sense of humor should read this book! I am giving it to all my friends (mostly because I want them to stop borrowing my copy! ).
Read it - I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
A parody is a dangerous thing to maintain. Often you get caught in your own cleverness and lose steam (or lose your readers' interest). Our Dumb Century has gone beyond all that. Here is 20th century America skewered for all it is worth, leaving no shortcoming unnoticed, no historical event unmasked.
This book is not simply a "goof" on history. The writers really know their stuff. I mean REALLY know it. Each entry is the "front page" of The Onion (gee, we never knew it was THIS venerable...) from the 1900 to 2000 (okay, it came out in 1999, but you can stretch things). Not only are issues of the day dealt with in a hysterical manner (1955: Whites Invent 'Rock and Roll' -- New Caucasian-Based Teen Craze Sweeps America; 1945: WAR OVER! 50 YEARS OF NUCLEAR PARANOIA BEGIN TODAY!), but the typeface, the layouts of the pages, and the quality of the photos match the period. Find an old newspaper. Hold it up to the "equivalent year" in The Onion. It is a match.
Conservatives are blasted. Liberals are skewered. Apoliticals are tarred and feathered. Everyone gets their due in this volume.
Worse yet, you might even get an education reading this book. If nothing else you'll probably have to go look something up to just understand some of the jokes. I know I did...
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Format: Hardcover
This book is simply genius comedy. Some of the best work The Onion has ever done. This is a must-own for all history buffs with a sense of humor. You really have to have a good grasp of history to fully appreciate all of the jokes, but just about anyone should be able to enjoy it on some level.
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Format: Paperback
Good satire/comedy is a difficult task. It is not enough to just have a good idea or opening line, and then let that try to carry the day. Our Dumb Century succeeds where many have failed: the satires are hilarious from beginning to end. Great satirists know how to work with a kernel of truth and give it hilarious angles and take it to absurd places. The authors know their history and have a knack for latching onto some of the mainstream values and prejudices of each era, exaggerating them, and incorporating them in the headlines and stories. For example, a typical 50's headline reads "Eisenhower Vows to Address Growing Problem of Overdue Library Books," or the small print lead from the 1907 satire, "Foreign child labor a 'great threat' to American child labor, say captains of industry." There are no sacred cows here. All political viewpoints are skewered. Check out the Russian revolution headline: "Pretentious, Goateed Coffeehouse Types Seize Power In Russia." How many humor books have left you laughing until tears roll down your face? This is that rare book!
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