6.25.2012

Review: Dumb History - The Stupidest Mistakes Ever Made, by Joey Green

Dumb History: The Stupidest Mistakes Ever Made,
by Joey Green
Plume
May 29, 2012
256 pgs
When I received Joey Green's Dumb History: The Stupidest Mistakes Ever Made from Plume, I (mistakenly) assumed that it would not only be about history, but also follow the Dave Barry style of mocking said history. After all, the title is Dumb History. Alas, I was wrong on both counts.

What Mr. Green has compiled here is a completely unorganized catalogue of items - some actually are anecdotes about historical blunders, but the majority of them are mistakes made by advertisers (such as accidentally marketing something tasty in a native language with a word that means manure) and casting directors (such as suggesting over and over again--sometimes correctly--that so-and-so was miscast in such-a-movie and spoke with such-an-accent the whole time). The rest aren't even mistakes, they're simply a matter of ignorance or misinformation, such as:


Ancient Hindus believed that the world was supported on the backs of four elephants standing on top of a giant turtle.

or


While signing his name in cement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in September 1981, actor Burt Reynolds misspelled his name.

Are both of these mildly interesting? Sure. Are they mistakes? Well, the second one was; t
he first one was just a matter of being pre-...I don't know, pre-enlightenment? It's not like President Clinton said the world was supported on the backs of a bunch of pachyderms riding a tortoise. He didn't inhale, remember?

In all seriousness though (and I do hate to be serious when talking about a book that contains an anecdote about David Caruso's acting career) I cannot imagine what the prerequisites must have been for getting into this collection of weird facts.

My curiosity, however, must be sidelined by my frustration with the structure of the book: it has none. Which means none of the weird sports facts are together, none of the weird tv facts are together, etc. And should you find something that's actually worth remembering (i.e. the bit in Robinson Crusoe where he strips naked and swims to the ship where he stuffs his pockets--I know, right? What pockets??--with biscuits), good luck finding it.

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