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The Little Book of Big Mistakes: 220 of History's Most-Regrettable Moments

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    This was really an awful book. Fist off, the articles are way

    This was really an awful book.

    Fist off, the articles are way too profane. (The book is also sold under the title "The Little Book of Big F*#K Ups", which should give you a sense of the tone.) I personally don't mind profanity, but it added nothing to the prose, and the sheer amount eventually seemed juvenile, as if the author's weren't creative or motivated enough to come up with something else to say. Parents, I really can't stress this enough, don't get this book for your little kid!

    Even ignoring the profanity, the writing style was far too colloquial. Given, the authors were going for an "easy reading" style, but the stories often end in the deaths of many people, and the sarcasm comes off as insulting crass.

    The entries are a bit dubious at best (Adam and Eve as the first entry?) and fail to show evidence of research or, at times, even common sense. For instance, the authors devote an entire entry to Y2K, but fail to notice the effort put in by scores of computer wizards, engineers, and day-to-day employees that kept it from becoming a fiasco. There's a mocking entry describing the 1998 Bangladesh flood, at one point stating "Houseboats people, houseboats" and ignoring the tragedy hundreds of poor people who drowned.

    I'd say nearly 1/3 of the book is devoted to sports, mostly baseball. If you're not a fan, feel free to tear out 1/3 of the book and move on.

    The sarcastic tone starts off fun, but somewhere in the middle it begins to feel forced, then grating. The book begins to seem like a celebration not of history, but of how dumb *other* people are. It seems like a long, drawn out insult designed to make the authors feel better about themselves by mocking others. And in the process, it becomes annoying and no fun to read.

    It's worth noting that the only review of the book on its jacket is by the best friend of the author, and it features a shameless plug for his business. The foreword is by the same friend, who mentions the same business 5 (!) times in the one-page forward. If the only good word for the book is the author's friend, and his praise is really an advertisement, it doesn't bode well for the content.

    Final word of advice: I threw this book away after flipping through it. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, not parents, not kids, not avid readers or occasional ones. I wouldn't even recommend it for fans of trivia: there are far better books available, ones that don't insult your intelligence with misleading stories, obnoxious sarcasm, pointless profanity, or plain old mean-spirited writing.

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