Stupid American History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions

Stupid American History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions

by Leland Gregory

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America is the home of the brave and, apparently, the stupid and gullible. Satirist Leland Gregory teaches us a lesson in historical hilarity with Stupid American History.

From Columbus to George W. Bush (that's a lot of material, people), Leland leads us through American history's mythconceptions, exposing idiocy and inanity along the time line. He reeducates by informing us about myths. For example, Samuel Prescott actually was the guy to alert us that the British were coming and not that Paul Revere dude.

Move over Colbert and Stewart; satire has finally found its rightful place in American history.

Excerpt from the book:

"John Tyler was on his knees playing marbles when he was informed that Benjamin Harrison had died and he was now president of the United States. At that time marbles was a very popular game for both children and grown-ups."

For reasons still unknown, Texas congressman Thomas Lindsay Blanton, a Presbyterian Sunday school teacher and prohibitionist, inserted dirty words into the Congressional Record in 1921. His colleagues overwhelmingly censured him on October 24, 1921, by a vote of 293-0."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780740793547
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication date: 04/21/2009
Series: Stupid History , #3
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 268,961
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

The jokes, wacky anecdotes, and inane quotes in Leland Gregory's Stupid-themed anthologies showcase the best of human nature at its worst. Through his Twitter handle of @ChronicStupid, Leland shares headlines, quips, and unbelievable feats of folly culled from print, online, and broadcast media around the globe. He has authored more than a dozen humor titles, including What's the Number for 911? and the New York Times best-sellers Stupid American History and America's Dumbest Criminals. A tireless promoter, he has made hundreds of radio and television appearances, including multiple appearances on NBC's Today show.

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Stupid American History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
bearcat83 More than 1 year ago
if the quote on the B&N site is actually in the book, then the author needs to spend more time looking at the facts of history. Johm Tyler was NOT Benjamin Harrison's VP. Benjamin Harrison did NOT die in office--he was the grandson of William Henry Harrison, the first U.S. President to die in office and whom Tyler succeeded. While I am all for looking at the interesting and less vital parts of history, let's make sure we have the facts correct.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too short chapters
TiffanyAK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are several blatant errors in this book, so you can't take everything it says as true. But, it's still an entertaining read. So, don't read this if you're looking for a book full of true historical humorous events, unless you're prepared to have to research any that catch your interest to see whether or not they are in fact true. But, if you're just looking for a bit of entertainment and humor, then go ahead and pick up this one.
penwing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book through the Early Reviewers Programme, and so it is with great reluctance that I post this review.Being a Brit who's had to observe the effects of Bush & Co. not only on American politics, but also British politics, a book named "Stupid American History" has frankly done all the selling it needs to do for me. I managed to snag a copy as part of a reviewers programme which I'd put in for on the name and very brief description alone. For a free book I shouldn't really complain but it really doesn't match its title or description. "Leland leads us through American history's mythconceptions, exposing idiocy and inanity along the timeline." Except he doesn't. This book is a series of non-chronological snippets of American trivia. Not everything is stupid. No historical discussion takes place. About the only accurate bit of the title is "American". Unless the title means "American History dumbed down to enable even the stupid to cope". But that wouldn't be representative either. "Move over Colbert and Stewart; satire has finally found it's rightful place in history." I don't think it's possible for this to be any more incorrect. This book is not satire. Some of the snippets may be funny - some even live up to the "stupid" in the book's title - but funny and satire are not the same thing. Even if they were, Stewart and Colbert are vastly superior."From Columbus to George W Bush," well, yes. What does this tome on Stupid American History give us about Dubya? That he's related to two former presidents - his dad, and Franklin Pierce his FOURTH COUSIN FIVE TIMES REMOVED! What stupidity. What historical significance (I mean later in the book it is revealed that FDR was related to 11 other presidents). What humour. Seriously, what stupidity, historical significance and humour? (That by the way is nothing compared to the riviting fact that Dubya's dad is the only president with four names).This is the sort of book I would expect to receive as a secret santa type present. I would pick it up in a bookstore, flick through it and then think "nah" and put it back. Like most books of it's ilk, it'll sit, neglected on my bookshelf until I'm feeling particularly in need of something brainless and amusing when I may pick it up and flick through it with a smile on my face.
CuCulain42 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stupid American History is a fun book full of trivia about little know or commonly incorrect pieces of American history. It makes an excellent coffee table or bathroom book as one can simply randomly open it and read passages. This book has been tantalizing enough that even my wife who is not a history buff has been caught perrusing the pages. The only dissapointment that i found was, like many trivia books, there is no index so if you have a favorite quip you'll want to put a bookmark in it.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book from the Early Reviewers program. It was an enjoyable and fun read. This is written in the same vein as the Uncle John's bathroom readers. Each page has a factoid or 2 about some famous person in American History. Most are funny dumb things people did, others are dumb things we now believe about the past. It was informative and humorous as well as an easy read. The one problem it had that irritated me, was the organization. It seemed to be put together in what ever order the notes where piled on the authors desk. Sometimes 2-3 pages in a row might be closely related and then there might be an almost identical entry 20 pages before or after. There is no way to skip straight to an entry unless you memorized the page, without reading the whole book again. Fun book worth the little time it takes to read. Oh, and since there are no citations, mostly consider this a form of entertainment.To give a taste.In 1872, Congress passed a law requiring members of both houses to be docked a day's pay for every day's absence, except in the case of illness. More than 135 years later, the law has been enforced only twice.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'll give it 1/2 star for entertainment value. It's a perfect bathroom or read it while you're waiting someplace book. I would not call it history by any means, and I'm sorry to see Amazon classifying it as history...there's not one tiddle or jot of citation, verification, not even a sentence of author bio to lend any credibility to this person's authority to 'debunk' history. Yes, it's fun, but Reader's Digest can be fun too! I certainly wouldn't tout this book as anything but a compilation of unverified factoids (I can get the same info on Wikipedia and at least they're trying to get build in credibility). There are others, Ken Davis, Bill Bryson who write humorously of historical facts, but who give us some back up to believe in. This one should be on the shelves with Erma Bombeck.If this is how we think we can instill a love our history in our students, we're in more trouble than I thought we were. The trivia tag is the most appropriate.
koalamom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once again, Leland Gregory has changed the way I look at history, American history, this time. We all grew up learning this in school that this book now debunks as legend or myth. Sometimes the truth just isn't as interesting, so someone says something a little beyond the truth and off the stories grow.The vignettes can be read in short spurts or all at one time and they'll keep you pondering and maybe even laughing the entire time.This book just proves that one should keep learning or relearning, in this case, all their lives as sometimes things aren't always as they seem or we were made to think they were.
szarka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While there are no citations from which to follow up on interesting topics, this is a fun book designed for reading in short bursts--perfect for a plane trip or waiting in line. Each page presents an interesting, usually offbeat, fact about American history. A great gift for the history buff or aspiring Jeopardy contestant in your life.
debherter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as entertaining as I had hoped. Many of the entries are simply corrections of the history we had come to believe as true. There are no laugh-out-loud entries, and nothing very surprising. The cartoons that are used as illustrations are uninspired and poorly used. This would be an OK "bathroom" book if you find it on sale.
daschaich on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very stupid: Leland Gregory's Stupid American History is billed as "informing us about myths", "lead[ing] us through American history's mythconceptions, exposing idiocy and inanity". It does nothing of the sort; the main idiocy and inanity the book exposes is its own.A more-or-less random collection of largely uninteresting scraps of information, Gregory's book was not at all what I was expecting. Based on the book's publicity (and probably helped along by some wishful thinking of my own), I anticipated a more lighthearted approach to the same sort of myths and distortions discussed in James Loewen's fascinating (but sober) Lies My Teacher Told Me.Instead, I "learned" that the Pilgrims were Marxian Communists (page 48), that "revisionists" are people who "rewrite history to make it politically correct" (page 147), and that the first line of the Constitution doesn't make sense (page 2): Gregory apparently believes that "more perfect" really means "better than perfect", as opposed to the "closer to perfect" meaning that seems obvious to me. Nothing in the book is referenced or sourced in any way (in some cases probably for good reason).Even the entries that appear to be factually correct are often puzzlingly insignificant. Why should anyone care that Rachel Jackson was the only First Lady who smoked a pipe (page 2), or that George H. W. Bush was the only President with four names (page 16)? In at least one case, Gregory ignored what I consider the most interesting facet of the factoid: when he mentions Victor Berger's 1911 introduction of a Constitutional amendment to abolish the Senate (page 232), he fails to note that Berger was one of only two Socialists to be elected to Congress (so far).The book as a whole has no discernible organization. Unfortunately, some entries refer to earlier ones, which could inconvenience those who would prefer to flip to random pages instead of reading straight through. Like most books that overview American history, there is disproportionate focus on the Revolution, the "founding fathers", and the Civil War.The two stars I give Stupid American History may be generous. I found some of Gregory' factoids amusing. Others were new to me, but given the material mentioned above, I can't trust the information or feel as though I learned anything. Be sure to read a few pages before buying this, to make sure it's what you expect, and what you want.
pandorabox82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a history major, the main reason I requested this book during the ER month was to see what dumb little incidents in history the author could highlight, starting in a chronological order from the very beginning of our history.What I got was a mish-mash of historical anecdotes that are in no perceivable order, nor are there any citations given, which any person who has even been to a high school history course knows are a necessity to prove the veracity of what you are claiming. With no discernable way to find out the truth behind all these little vignettes, one must doubt the truth in them.Stupid American History? No, I say Irresponsible American Author.
ABVR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's nothing inherently wrong with this collection of brief anecdotes from American history--except that the same basic idea for a book has been executed better by other people. What you get for your money is 250 or so anecdotes, each told in a short paragraph or so, and surrounded by lots of blank space and the occasional cartoon figure. Some of the anecdotes are familiar stuff that turns up routinely in history books: the origins of the words "gerrymander" and "bunkum," the specifics of the Volstead act (which banned the manufacture and sale of booze, not its consumption), and the coincidental deaths (on July 4, 1826) of friends turned enemies turned friends John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Others are mere trivia: Martin Van Buren was the only president who grew up speaking a language other than English (he spoke Dutch), George Washington was probably impotent, and Tennessee Williams choked to death on the lid from a bottle of eye drops. At best, the entries are true stories well and briefly told: Henry Ford scarred by an exploding teapot as a child, the 19C Cardiff, New York farmer who ginned up a phony "petrified giant" and charged credulous visitors to see it, the fact that the winter at Valley Forge was unusually warm. At worst, they're thin, undocumented, and stripped of context. The piece on the sinking of the Lusitania, though factually accurate, manages to completely avoid the central issue of when (and how) submarines could attack unarmed vessels.If you're looking for great short-form writing about American history, try Paul Boller's "Anecdotes" series, If you just want a few minutes of diversion in the bathroom or carpool line . . . this will d nicely
manadabomb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm assuming Mr. Gregory has his facts straight about the myths and stupidity of America. This little book is full of trivia that you just never knew. Such as when JFK was assassinated, it wasn't a federal felony to kill a president. You have to wonder why?!?!When the Titanic hit the iceberg the night of April 14th, most of the travelers were watching....The Poseiden Adventure...about a ship capsizing. Irony, no?This book covers the beginning of America to fairly current political history (even has some snarkiness towards Dubya). Very entertaining and full of tidbits to shock and awe your dinner guests.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes, this book was fun, entertaining, and illuminating. But is it true? That seems to be important when you are calling a book history (albeit stupid history). Zero footnotes. Zero citations. Zero info about the author. From where did this book come? Its origins are as murky as my daily e-mail and I can't even check out the stories on
zzshupinga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book through Library Thing's book reviews. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I approached this book as what it appeared to be: a book of assorted trivia that wasn't taking itself to seriously. This book is by no means a history book and is probably best used for trivial pursuit or just for tossing random facts into conversations, but that's ok. It succeeds at what it's supposed to be, a light entertaining read.The book presents many entertaining factoids, many of which that I had never heard or seen before. The research appears fairly through (although there are no citations) and presents those factoids that people love to toss out at random. My two main complaints about the book are that it's not in any type of order (makes it difficult to find things later) and that the images often have nothing to do with the factoid. Other than that, it's a handy little book to have around for a light read.
bragan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A collection of random, often obscure facts about American history. Most of these aren't actually examples of stupidity, but instead odd bits of trivia, discussions of historical figures' eccentricities, or debunkings of popular American myths. (E.g. Betsy Ross apparently did not sew the first American flag. Sorry!) The entries range from mildly fascinating to vaguely pointless, but overall it's pleasant enough in a breezy, "betcha didn't know!" sort of way. Just don't expect anything in-depth. Each tidbit gets only a single paragraph on its own little page, which means that reading it straight through is a bit like eating a meal consisting entirely of potato chips, but makes it pretty much an ideal "bathroom book."
alphasunrise on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stupid American History didn't live up to what I was expecting based on the title. Structurally, the book was highly disappointing. Rather than the tales advertised, the book is more a series of short anecdotes with no organization at all. I would have prefered to see the items grouped by subject or in a chronological order. The illustration choices distracted from the book, as well, and were repeatedly the same four characters from the front cover. Quality of content was sporadic as well. The tales vary from pure fluff such as Henry Ford blowing up his mother's teapot, to more substantial topics such as women not being legally seated on juries in some states until as late as 1973 in all 50 states. Occasionally the author includes a tale that lives up to the promise of the title, such as the town that changed it's name to Little Booger Creek. What really tanks the book for me are the author's attempts at making jokes. After describing how two presidents had once been indentured servants, he wonders if we would have been better off if they had stayed servants. At the end of another tale describing how the first elected president, Van Buren, had also been the only president not to have spoken English as a first language, the author adds the pathetic aside "unless, of course, you include George Bush." Really. I thought the book was to be about strange or stupid moments in history, not gratuitous bashing and name-calling.All in all, the book is probably best suited for the back of the toilet, where one can read a short bit while focusing on other matters.
randirousseau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While anecdotally I found this book mildly entertaining, I overall found it a bit.... stupid. In asking my husband, who also read the book, he enjoyed it a bit more than I did, but was glad we hadn't purchased the copy.The information may have been interesting if it had followed a logical stream - instead, tidbits were presented disjointedly and without anything tying them together (one page had a baseball tidbit and a politics tidbit - completely unrelated). And there weren't any references, so if you were interested with a "factoid" you could follow up. So, rather than just "stupid American history" it's also just kind of pointless.
TriciaDM on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
would of made a better day-to-day calendar....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable bathroom reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I liked this book very much, you can find the same information and much more in Lies, Legends and Cherished Myths of American History and World History.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago