- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Barnes & Noble; REPRINT Edition edition (April 30, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 088029809X
- ISBN-13: 978-0880298094
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 75 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody: Great Figures of History Hilariously Humbled Hardcover – April 30, 1992
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The focus of How to Be a Hermit is Cuppy's time living in a shack on a small island, Jones Island, off Long Island's south shore, from 1921 to 1929. The nearby Coast Guard crew helped him repair the shack and shared supplies and recipes with him. In 1929 the encroachment of the Jones State Park forced him off the island, but a dispensation from the head of the parks department allowed him to keep the shack, and he continued to visit the island until his death.
These gently humorous essays show the difficulty of living alone, dependent on the mercy of the coast guardsmen and the seasonal visitors to the island, who left behind miscellaneous canned goods when they left. He quotes the acerbic comments of his only companion, a black cat.
He supported himself by writing book reviews for $0.25 each, and writing a column for the New York Herald Tribune, and selling articles to the New Yorker and McCall's magazine. Very shy of people, Cuppy never married, thus the subtitle. He described a hermit as "simply a person to whom civilization has failed to adjust itself."
Civilization never adjusted itself to Will Cuppy, and he got his revenge by writing these wonderful essays.
In a series of biographical sketches, Cuppy takes a look at Hatsheput, Pericles, Hannibal, Atilla, Charlemagne, Lucretia Borgia, William the Conqueror, Philip the II, Louis XIV, Frederick the Great, and Miles Standish, among others. Without being unnecessarily disrepectful, he reduces each of these figures to the humans that they were. Each of his facts, no matter how incongruous, is absolutely true, else he wouldn't have included it. Amazingly, his approach does not get the slightest bit tiresome as the book goes on--the chapter about the Pilgrims is just as funny as the chapters on the ancient Egyptians. And do not on any account skip the footnotes--Cuppy's use of footnotes is another uniquely hilarious aspect of his presentation.
This really is world history the painless way! If you're a history buff at all, you'll crack up laughing.