Author: Adam Selzer
ISBN:  978-0-385-73650-3

Click Here To Purchase The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History

There are some books that simply feel like they are made for a certain type of reader.  This book, I have to say, “called out” to me when I opened the battered box that looked like it had survived the fast-paced world of the postal service just to get into my hands.  One of my favorite things in life is sarcasm (in case this was unclear).  I have a sincere affection for writers who have the ability to make people enjoy and learn a subject by using the power of laughter.  Mr. Selzer and his crew certainly have the ability to make a reader laugh until they cry – which is exactly what happened to me when I decided to “bone” up on American History.

With Jon Stewart-like savvy, the Smart Aleck’s organization decided to begin history at the beginning (or, at least, what we Americans like to think of as the beginning.  You know?  When we came along).  Before that it was all just these strangely-dressed, short Europeans who had no idea of the concept of soap, let alone shampoo.  The introduction begins when we were all Europeans – some of us had boots and some were barefoot – while shoveling manure in Europe looking toward the far distant shore, yearning for freedom.  We are then led through the pages by a very able hand who shows us what it was like to ride across that ocean in a very leaky, cold boat, and stand before the Indians with looks of intense fear on our faces.  We spend a lot of time with those macho explorers who risked their lives and the lives of others to discover treasures that were real (America), and things imaginary (El Dorado, anyone?)  We are shown the ones who made it and the lesser known ones who were eaten by cannibals.  I’m always amazed that these people chose this job, especially without the benefit of health insurance.  (Huh…come to think about it…the lack of that certainly hasn’t changed). 

The next chapters introduce us to The Puritans who liked to scream Witch! just about as often as they could (and kept a supply of really strong rope handy.)  I can only imagine what Cotton Mather would have said about Harry Potter…no one would’ve been safe.  We are shown the fashions of each century and, let’s face it the costumes – especially the hats – were far cuter than they are nowadays.  We’ve literally gone from colorful, feather-encrusted caps for our leaders, to boring old suits.  It really is a shame.  We then read about the Colonists, who were a little revolting to say the least, and the whole George III guy who was a real nutbag right from the beginning.  Through Valley Forge we trudge without the benefit of snow pants, eating rock cakes and suffering horrible digestive issues – to the signers of all those documents we care so much about that make us what we are today.  The Boston Tea Party seems to have been a real lot o’ fun, too; and, then, some of us hearty folk looked to the West – where there was most assuredly plenty of room to set-up strip malls.

From Lewis and Clark and their explorations, to The Civil War, where we all decided that Yankees and Confederates could just NOT live together in harmony – (I’m a Yankee, so I’m always pleased that we won this one) – to the Gold Rush; through the roaring twenties, meeting and greeting every well-known and also the most forgettable presidents of the time periods.  WWI, WWII…pretty much everything that Billy Joel sings about in his song “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” is brought up in this wonderful look at American history. 

Do not only read this book, covet this book.  Not only are the “extras” offered – including experiments, like hanging a one-legged man just to see which way he’ll turn in the breeze – but the writing, itself, is a way to unwind, release the tension, and turn off the television set so you don’t need to look at the next group of “suits” trying like heck to destroy everything that this country fought so hard for in the first place.  Congrats!  Bravo!  I hope the Smart Aleck’s keep making these left and right so that We the people can have a whole lot of fun and learn something at the same time.

 Click Here To Purchase The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History