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Dumb History: The Stupidest Mistakes Ever Made    by Joey Green order for
Dumb History
by Joey Green
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2012 (2012)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

With U.S. election campaigns reaching critical mass this is the time of year, when a lot of people need a laugh. Dumb History: The Stupidest Mistakes Ever Made is just what the doctor ordered.

From William Shakespeare to Benjamin Franklin to Henry Ford, it becomes very apparent that not only politicians make very dumb mistakes. In fact if you are prone to stick your foot in your mouth or do silly things you immediately regret afterwards, you'll find solace in this book. Your missteps, in most instances, probably don't hold a candle to the tremendous blunders made through history by some remarkably smart people.

What are we talking about here? Well, in 820 CE, a herbalist designed an anti-aging elixir for Emperor Hsien-tsung and it killed him! Ouch! Then in 1938 there was Douglas Corrigan whose nickname is now Wrongway Corrigan. The pilot took off on a nonstop flight from New York to Los Angeles in 1938 and ended up landing in Dublin, Ireland. You'd think all the water beneath the plane might have been a clue that something was wrong!

Once you begin reading the short paragraphs chronicling these bloops and blunders, you'll find it hard to set the book aside. You might even relate to some of the folks who made these mistakes, too. Imagine the angst felt by the worker who, in 1978, dropped a fifty-five-cent paint scraper into a torpedo launcher of the U.S. nuclear submarine Swordfish. The result was a $171,000 repair bill!

When can a celebration be too much of a good thing? In 1993 the celebration of the victory of the Bolivian soccer team's victory over Uruguay got a little out of hand in the village of Ixiamas. So many firecrackers were set off by jubilant fans that they set fire to the thatched roofs of the homes in the village burning most of them to the ground.

Naturally there are plenty of political miscues highlighted by the author. One of my favorites is the one that explains that in 1960 Gore Vidal rejected Ronald Reagan for a lead role in his play, The Best Man. The author felt Regan would not be believable as a presidential candidate.

There's also the tale of the embarrassing event that occurred during a state dinner for President George Bush in Tokyo in 1992. Thanks to the President's gastric difficulties, a new Japanese word was coined - bushuru which translates 'to vomit publically'.

With two to three mistakes explained on each page, this is a quick read. When you are finished you may wish to share the book with friends or family members but, on the other hand, you may want to keep it to reread whenever you feel the need for a quick, humorous pick-me-up!

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