"Our Dumb Century" is, simply put, the most entertaining book I've ever had the pleasure of reading. On every page, covering each year of the 20th century, The Onion's crack team of writers bring their devastating sense of irony to every important and not-so-important event that a history enthusiast could ever want to think of. No prominent figure, from Hitler to Stalin to Nixon, is spared as the Onion launches a full frontal assault on lies, hypocrisy, stereotypes, and various misdeeds with the irreverent wit that has made its website an internet mainstay for close to a decade and running. You might think one would have a hard time laughing aloud at news of wars, genocides, and other high crimes, but you just need to take a look at the below headlines to understand what I'm talking about:
"The Machine: Will It Replace the China-Man?"
"Stalin Announces Five-Year 'Everybody Dies' Plan."
"Dastardly Japs Attack Colonially Occupied U.S. Non-State."
"Stock Market Crashes; Debacle Linked to Jews, Negroes, Catholics, Anarachists, Foreigners, Women Voters."
"'The Man' hurt by Black Panther Accusations."
"Kennedy Slain by CIA, Mafia, Castro, LBJ, Teamsters, Freemasons."
"Mr. T Releases 'Pity List '86.'"
And there's lots, lots more where that came from. Despite a few scattered moments of tastelessness, "Our Dumb Century" is chiefly one hilarious story after another, relentessly lampooning the foibles of human nature and the train wreck that American culture has become of late. I've reread some of these stories as many as ten times, and they never cease to be funny. Sometimes (most of the time, actually), life becomes so absurd that the best way to deal with it is just to laugh, and The Onion has always been extremely useful for just that purpose. "Our Dumb Century" manages to cast the light of irony on some truly dark times, which is an achievement that should not be discounted.