Laugh Your Way Through American History
The Guys Who Started the Whole Train Rolling:
Hysterically Historical Fiction
It is said that the best humor is funny because it contains the truth. Humor is a good way to look back on portions of the American journey that didn't seem too funny at the time. It also serves to remind us not to be so ridiculous the next time we have a rendezvous with destiny.
Dave Barry has a way of making observations that most of us never even try to put into words. He pokes fun at Queen Elizabeth I, George Washington, the British, the German language, Richard Nixon, the hippies, and even the Smoot-Hawley Tariff (who knew how funny that could be?) This is a book I have never loaned because I love it too much to risk losing it. Any time I need a laugh, I turn to any chapter in this book.
Credit for images: Free Clip Art Now
Uncle Sam Wants You to Read This
History Meets Humor
and Humor Wins!
Honestly, even the Table of Contents for this book made me laugh. Some of the chapters are:
- A Brash Young Nation Gets into Wars and Stuff,
- A Nation Gets Funky, and
- Major Nonhumorous Events Occur.
Here's an example of Dave's interpretive approach to American history:
Dave explains that the song "Yankee Doodle" was a secret weapon of the revolution. American troops sang it, British troops tried to figure out what the words meant, and Americans whacked the Brits with their muskets while they were confused. The British resorted to hiring mercenaries who spoke German, and thus could not understand the words to "Yankee Doodle."
This and other amazing "facts" you never learned in American History 101 make this book a great read. I sometimes read excerpts to my American Literature and American Government classes.
My Favorite Chapter
Remembering the Yuppies
Chapter twenty-one describes the Reagan-Bush years, which were my college and young adult years. I worked with many "young urban professionals" at the time and thought Dave's description of them was hilarious: "...seriously ambitious humanoids whose idea of a really wild evening was to get drunk and restructure a corporation." He also covers the rise of the personal computer, which enabled people to use big words without knowing how to spell them.
Since this book dates back to 1989, we get to read about Grenada (an island so small it almost sank when our troops landed) and the Iran-Contra scandal. The fun in this book concludes with the 1988 presidential election, but be sure America will remain funny for a long time. As long as we are free to laugh at ourselves, we will survive as a nation.
I plan to read Dave's book on the Millennium next--I can't imagine the fun he must have had writing about y2k!