Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Mental Floss History of the United States by Erik Sass with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur: Book Review

The Mental Floss History of the United States
by Erik Sass (with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur)
ISBN: 978-0-06-192822-2

Description: Smarter than a history teacher, funnier than the Founding Fathers, and more American than Alaska, an almost (but not entirely) comprehensive primer on American history (or at least, the good stuff)

In trademark smart aleck style, this is history according to mental_floss, an insightfully accurate and incisively humorous exploration of little-known truths and widely believed falsehoods, which simultaneously exposes some of America's oddest moments, strangest citizens, most egregious frauds, and much, much more.

Ten meaty chapters, peppered with fun trivia, entertainingly cover the essential timeline of the social, political, and cultural happenings of American history and mythbust all the lies teachers told us along the way. Was Abraham Lincoln really a heroic defender of liberty and freedom? Were the Sixties actually a groovy time of peace and love? Has the U.S. always been dependent on foreign oil? mental_floss sets the record straight and shares the fascinating stories behind politics, literature, fashion, televangelism, serial killers, genetic engineering, Yuppies, SPAM, the original Swine Flu, potato chips, rollerskating, mobsters, rum, communists, beaver wars, the rise and fall of irony, and everything else made in the U.S.A.
The Good Stuff

  • American historical information written in an easy to read and understand format
  • Funny as Hell, but also sensitively written at times
  • You can see they have a love for their country, but at the same time admitting its faults and some of its less than stellar historical moments
  • Wonderful explanation about "indentured service"
  • The titles of the paragraphs are hilarious and often bang on!
  • Really enjoyed the paragraph on the War of 1812, but would have liked more information but than again, it must be a little bit of a sensitive subject to the Americans.  It reminded me of my favorite quote from Due South. And before I put this quote in, I love Americans, its just that Canadians usually think that we are the little brother and the US is our big brother so anytime we can get a shot in we do. "which makes the border between Canada and the United States the longest undefended border in the world. So that since their formation, our countries have found a peaceful way to coexist. Except for the War of 1812, where your country invaded ours and we sent you packing - but that's hardly worth mentioning - Due South January 2003)"
  • This is a must have for every library
  • Let me also say if every history teacher taught history a little more like this book, you would have a lot more students interested in it.  History if fun and fascinating kids, but most of my history teachers bored the crap out of me and made me hate history class -- except for you Mr Shore and Mr Linton - u guys rocked!
The Not so Good Stuff
  • lots of slagging of the Brits
  • I know its a picky thing, but the font is seriously small -- but hey I'm a 40 yr old women, the eyesight ain't what it used to be
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"By the time they arrived in America, the English were masters at screwing their subjects (See: Ireland)"

"Even though the last American invasion of Canada during the Revolutionary War had been soundly defeated, the Americans decided to try again.  They would liberate Canada from British rule, whether Canada liked it or not - and in fact, Canada did not like it, putting up a fierce resistance."

"People who maintain that the 1960's were groovy and mellow was either so addled with drugs they didn't notice what was going on, or so fried that they forgot about it later.  The sixties brought violent upheaval, including assassinations, domestic terrorism by the KKK and crazy left-wing groups, clashes between anti-war protesters and police, and race riots that left hundreds dead. Not exactly "groovy."

What I Learned
  • Way too much historical information about the US to list
  • About a lot of misconceptions about certain historical events and figures -- interesting about the background to the Alamo
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Not for "serious" history readers
  • Great for Canadian's with a lack of knowledge and misconceptions about the US, its historical events and its historical figures
  • A wonderful beginning history book for US students or those students who might find history boring -- this book is great at making it all sound interesting and exciting
  • I'm pretty sure my British pals will not be huge fans
  • A must have for every library -- think I might suggest purchase for Humber
4.5 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review & they should not be held responsible for the quote I put in from Due South -- I love you guys in the U.S. and I know you will definitely save our asses in case of a killer asteroid, alien attack or massive blizzard : )


  1. You find some great books that I have never heard of before, love that!!

  2. I've been eyeing this one. Looks like I may have to order it.

  3. I think its a good one to keep around the house