Stupid History by Leland Gregory

June 2, 2011

Description (from the publisher): 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.

Liked:

  • This was a very easy, breezy read. A majority of the anecdotes cover less than a page, so it didn’t take long at all to get through this book. Plus, the non-chronological presentation means it’s possible to read from cover to cover (as I did) or by picking and choosing at random.
  • I love trivia, so the subject matter was right up my alley. I enjoy learning little tidbits like this that actual history books might otherwise gloss over. I’m not going to be able to go out there and pass the AP History exam or anything like that, but of course that’s not the point of the book.
  • Gregory sprinkled the book with plenty of puns and other attempts at humor. Some of the attempts were successful; others were not. But I appreciated the effort at making this a lighthearted affair.

Disliked:

  • I didn’t notice this when I was reading the book, but a few other reviewers have mentioned that Gregory’s facts are sometimes inaccurate. That’s kind of ironic (and sloppy) given the subject matter, so it would be unfortunate if the inaccuracy claims are true.

Rating:

Overall, I thought Stupid History by Leland Gregory was worth the read. I got it as a free Kindle download (it was a limited promotion, I believe), which was fine. I’m not sure that I would have felt the same way about the book if I’d actually paid for it. As it is though, Stupid History was sufficiently entertaining and easy to read, so I give it 3 stars out of 5.

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