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Our Dumb Century [Hardcover]

The Onion
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 12 2004 Running Press Miniature Editions
Definitely not for the easily offended, 'Our Dumb Century' was a 'New York Times' #1 bestseller chronicling 100 years of American history with dry humor and cynicism. This Miniature Edition™ distills the brilliant wit and satire of the original from "America's Finest News Source."

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From Amazon

Every Wednesday, work at Amazon.com--along with just about every other company connected to the fantastical "information superhighway" invented by Vice President Al Gore and actress Hedy Lamarr--grinds to a halt as employees hasten to read the latest issue of The Onion, America's most popular newspaper based in Madison, Wisconsin. But most of the paper's fans have started reading it only within the last few years, and are sadly unaware of The Onion's mighty journalistic legacy. To combat this cultural illiteracy, Editor in Chief Scott Dikkers and his writing staff have assembled this collection of great front pages from the last hundred years. Here is just a sampling of the headlines:

A New Century Dawns! McKinley Ushers in Bold New "Coal Age"

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria Boasts: "No Man Can Stop Me"

AWESOME! Nation Wowed by Tremendous Hindenburg Explosion

Martin Luther King: "I Had a Really Weird Dream Last Night"

Clinton Denies Lewinsky Allegations: "We Did Not Have Sex, We Made Love," He Says

And those are just the headlines; the stories themselves are all masterpieces of the journalist's trade. Of course, readers with delicate sensibilities may find some of these accounts a bit too risqué, and perhaps even tasteless. (Among the potential offenders: Rosa Parks's decision to "screw this bus shit" and take a cab.) But if you're looking for an antidote to all the 20th-century hoopla promulgated by stuffed shirts like Peter Jennings and Harold Evans--not to mention the best history book since 1066 and All That--then Our Dumb Century is the one for you. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

The Onion, a weekly newspaper out of Madison, WI, has established a hugely popular presence online with its laugh-out-loud mixture of sophomoric irreverence and savage satire. This book continues the Onion's missionAfrom 1900 to 2000Awith mock front pages twisting each year's signal events. 1906: "Should U.S. Set Limits on Indian Slaughter?" 1915: "Henry Ford Unveils New Line of Anti-Semitic Autos." 1933: "Stalin Announces Five-Year `Everybody Dies' Plan." 1942: "Ladies, Negroes Momentarily Useful." 1956: "U.S. Sexual Repression Reaches Boiling Point." 1976: "Cambodia to Switch to Skull-Based Economy." 1998: "Drugs Win Drug War." Though some articles will offend the delicate and a few fail to fulfill the promise of the headlines, this is terrific stuff. Even the graphics and asides have bite, like the "Countries Overthrown by the CIA Today" list from a 1964 issue. For all public libraries and academic libraries concerned with political humor.ANorman Oder, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force of history April 14 2004
"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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cutting, Wickedly Funny Satire April 13 2004
The Onion, with its weekly release of mock news-articles satirizing and lampooning the current status quo, is one of the most enjoyable humorous newspapers that currently exists. IT employs almost all types of humor, from subtletly to slapstick, from highbrow to lowbrow. However, nothing they write has even come close to the hilarity that Our Dumb Century brings to the reader. The book analyses the 20th Century from a not-quite-so objective standpoint, lampooning popular culture, spawning ludicrous conspiracy theories, ("Kennedy Slain by CIA, Mafia, Castro, LBJ, Teamsters, Freemasons)and reveling in the stupidity of our country and the world in the 20th Century. Every page brings something funny and satirical, from "World's Largest Metaphor Hits Ice-Berg - 1912" to "President Confronts Depression with 'Big Deal' Plan: 'Big deal, I'm Rich!' Roosevelt Says - 1933" to "Reagan May Have been Elected, Doesn't Recall - 1981."
Although I am a history buff, anyone with an elemantary backround in American and World History will be highly amused by this brilliant piece of humor, although I found that as I learned more the book became funnier and funnier. Please, whether you appreciate the lighter side of history or your team just lost and you need something to cheer you up- read Our Dumb Century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars political and social satire at its very best Feb. 7 2003
By audrey
From the straight-faced introduction and through approximately 150 mock newspaper front pages dated from 01/01/1900 through 01/01/2000, the Onion's comic geniuses demystify, debunk and demythologize real and surreal events and people. This is a book that can be browsed through many times; you'll always find some new detail to make you laugh or an insight that takes your breath away. Every detail, from headlines to advertisements, is hilarious:
04/13/1916 -- Cubist Regiment Decimated -- skewed perspective, lack of depth prove liability as non-linear soldiers are mercilessly cut down
07/20/1925 -- Scopes Monkey Trial Raises Troubling Question: Is Science Being Taught in Our Schools?
01/22/1990 -- Berlin Wall Destroyed in Doritos-Sponsored Super Bowl Halftime Spectacular
01/10/1998 -- Educators Praised As U.S. Kids Lead World in Schoolyard Shooting Accuracy
Many items are inspired one-liners, but a number enjoy lengthy front page stories that sustain the mood and the level of comedy. Ads, announcements, tv and radio schedules, cartoons and graphics are equally enjoyable. Count how many times Lady Liberty is ravaged by heathen outsiders!
A minor complaint: The only thing that would have made this book more enjoyable is an index so you could find your favorite targets more easily, but the writers have brought me so much laughter I could forgive them anything. A gentle warning: Don't leave this in the loo or you will never get in there!
Splendid. Righteous. Brilliant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Forward-Looking View Of The Past Dec 31 2002
"World's Largest Metaphor Hits Iceberg" may be the greatest headline ever about the Titanic disaster, yet without the benefit of the iconoclastic masterminds at "The Onion", we might have lost out on that inspired bit of news reporting.
"The Onion" is a satirical publication that is a cross between Harvard Lampoon and MAD Magazine, delivered with the mischievous, Cheshire Cat-like grin of Chevy Chase in his prime on Saturday Night Live. Through the articles of "The Onion", neither tragedy nor triumph has ever seemed quite so...funny! And though "The Onion" has not been around for most of the century, this has not stopped them from doing their part to cash in on "End of the Century" profiteering with their own look back on the stories that shaped and defined the 20th Century.
The true joy of "The Onion" is to be found in these faux-retrospectives. The humor is like those times when a bunch of friends are sitting around, and someone comes up with a preposterous way of looking at something. While the comment is funny in and of itself, the humor piles on in the way all the other friends chime in with their addendums and rejoinders, milking the concept for all it is worth. "Our Dumb Century" does just that. Each headline has an article with it, an expedition into the ridiculous. Be prepared to see the Apollo moon landing, World War II, and Clinton impeachment in a whole different light. No event is too sacred. No event is too mundane. The 20th Century is ripe for historical defilement, and "Our Dumb Century" serves up a hearty dose of lunatic revisionism for your enjoyment. Bon appetite.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Our Dumb Century
Our Dumb Century - not at all what I expected - 2" x 2" size - was for a gift but couldnt give this to someone - didnt bother trying to read it
Published 19 months ago by steve takacs
2.0 out of 5 stars Tiny disappointments
Some of the stories in this book were mildly amusing, but the size of the book and the quality of writing when compared to the onion.com webside is quite bad. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2010 by GuineasReading
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, Funny, Hilarious!
This is a great coffee table book. The writers for The Onion have outdone themselves with this one - turning every major event (and some minor ones) in the 20th century into a... Read more
Published on April 4 2004 by R.J. Corby
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for anyone who finds humor in history
This is the stuff you didn't learn in the classroom. Several hundred pages of satire later, you gain a greater appriciation for the American dream. Read more
Published on March 23 2004 by Alan Dodaro
5.0 out of 5 stars "Giant poster of Mao seizes power in China"
This may sound, slightly strange to you, yet in relation to a picture of his followers holding his picture on a poster, It begins to make sense. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Bathroom Read
How can you not laugh at most of the stuff in here. My favorite: "Joe Piscapo - Will His Star Ever Stop Rising? Read more
Published on July 10 2003 by R. M. Ettinger
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Bathroom Read
How can you not laugh at most of the stuff in here. My favorite: "Joe Piscapo - Will His Star Ever Stop Rising? Read more
Published on July 10 2003 by R. M. Ettinger
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp-minded Hysterics
Sharp-minded Hysterics
"Our Dumb Century" is 100 years of the New York Times-esq newspaper doing April Fools editions. The effect is brilliant. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2003 by Nicholas Provenzo
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!
The Onion has made an art out of the one-liner headline, and now it reaches back into the past to spoof a century's worth of political and historical fact. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2003 by lindyjulie
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