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The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action Paperback – Bargain Price, April 30, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
If you find fatal mishaps funny, you will enjoy the book greatly. In fact, this has to be the best book ever written about stupid ways to die and lose fertility. Anyone will feel smarter and better about themselves after reading these stories!
This book is about "celebrating self-removal of incompetent genetic material for the human race." In essence, the book proves that "common sense is not so common."
The book's premise is very well framed to put you in a humorous mood. The idea is that when people do stupid things that get them killed or keep them from having children, they thus perform a service by improving the gene pool for the remaining humans. Ms. Northcutt uses many witty quotes to emphasize this point, and establishes the mood well.
She has rules for these awards. To win the Darwin Award, you must (1) die or be unable to procreate, (2) show really bad judgment, (3) cause your own downfall, (4) have the ability to use sound judgment (are not permanently mentally impaired) and (5) have the incident verified by someone else. If you don't meet all these tests, you can still get an honorable mention, or be described as an urban legend or a personal account. I thought these distinctions made good sense, because the story's focus and credibility weighs heavily on the interest it creates for the reader drawn to this subject.
The stories are grouped around themes: comeuppances with animals, problems with relatives, criminal misadventures, problems with fire and explosives, fatal falls, military goofs, macho errors, unsafe sex, watery deaths, and genital-related stories.Read more ›
First, the book categorizes stories as "Confirmed by Darwin" and "Not confirmed by Darwin". However, even some of the not confirmed stories have citations to newspapers and other seemingly impeccable sources. It would have been very nice to have an appendix which indicated how the confirmed ones had been confirmed. (Down to 4 stars.)
Second, the introductions to the chapters are not terribly well-written. They aren't awful or anything, but they do contrast with the crisply-written stories themselves. Moreover, some of these introductions are *real* stretches. The contortions at the end of these particular introductions to make them seem connected to the stories in the chapter made me roll my eyes. These would have been better omitted, or turned into interludes, or something. (Down to 3 stars.)
Third, the book seemed like a huge plug for the website. Yes, I realize this material started out in email and morphed into a website, and there really is some interesting additional information on the website. However, I think the book has considerable general appeal, and tying it that closely to the web makes it less appealing as a present for technophobes who appreciate this kind of humor. (Down to 2 stars.)
In the end, I'm giving it one star back because it really is good fun. (Finished at 3 stars.)
Warning: don't read more than five or six stories in one sitting. They lose something when they are bunched together.
I'd been reading the annual awards on the Net for years, and mailing the funniest ones to friends; the tale of the man who welded cargo plane takeoff-assist jets to his car is so outlandish as to not be believed -- and apparently, shouldn't be, so take some of these stories with a grain of salt, even when they're purported to be true.
We all love to read about people from the "shallow end of the gene pool"; it makes us feel that perhaps we're not as dumb as we worry we might be. If you've ever thought about doing just about anything listed in this book...well, um...maybe we'll see you in the next edition.
The Darwin folks have been doing fine, fine work for years, and it's good to see a payoff for them, especially when it's as funny as this. I think it could have been longer (or denser), but it's certainly a good value.
Ms. Northcutt offers a comprehensive introduction explaining the criterion for the awards and the book's inclusions of nominees and urban legends. As you read the stories, you will be amazed at the lack of common sense employed by many of these people as they met their demise (or inability to reproduce). It is the perfect "bathroom book" and would make a great gift for anyone with a wry sense of humor!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For those not familiar with the 'Darwin Awards' series, these books list bizarre ways people have managed to kill themselves and stop their ability to pass along their genetics to... Read morePublished 16 months ago by james
I have been a HUGE fan of these since the late 90s and love the collection, especially reading them in high school or adult ed classes for fun.Published on October 22, 2013 by Trent Norman Ross Gillespie
It's hard to believe they actually walk among us! Hysterical.....I can't wait to read the others in this series. Read morePublished on November 14, 2012 by Linda Federman
I read this book cover-to-cover and it is filled with some of the funniest, most horrifying, most obscene stories that I have ever heard. Read morePublished on January 18, 2011 by MICHAEL G LUSTIG
From this book ,Wendy Northcutt seems to have used her great knowledge,learned in the renowned halls of Liberal higher education of UC Berkley,in molecular biology,to develop a... Read morePublished on December 28, 2010 by Jerry Guild
Think of the stupidest thing a person could ever do. Multiply this by a factor of ten. Then imagine that this person gets killed in the process of carrying out the stupid act. Read morePublished on October 30, 2010 by Alex C. Telander
While the idea of publishing approximately 300 short anecdotes about terminal stupidity sounds like it could be entertaining, in actuality most of the stories in this book are not... Read morePublished on February 14, 2010 by David F. Nolan
By now a cultural icon, the Darwin Awards were created by Wendy Northcutt in 1993. This is the first book of an ongoing series, because there is really no end to human stupidity. Read morePublished on September 20, 2009 by Benjamin Espen
To win a Darwin Award, you must meet five criteria: The winner is he (or, less often, she) who removes himself (or herself) from the gene pool, while exhibiting an astounding... Read morePublished on August 17, 2009 by Harry Eagar