The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody: Great Figures of History Hilariously Humbled by Will Cuppy
If only this hilariously droll send-up of historical figures were used as a middle-school textbook, every kid would adore history and go on to become a genius. Cuppy worked on it for sixteen years; the history is meticulously researched, though his treatment of it is far from stuffy. The book was published posthumously in 1950, so you'd think the humor would be dated. Not so. It holds up spectacularly well. "Egypt has been called the Gift of the Nile," he begins. "Once every year the river overflows its banks, depositing a layer of rich alluvial soil on the parched ground. Then it recedes and soon the whole countryside, as far as the eye can reach, is covered with Egyptologists."
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(This is my first goodreads review. Kind of fun.)