Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History” as Want to Read:
The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  190 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Do you know America? No, I mean, do you REALLY know America? Would you recognize John Adams in a lineup? Can you identify any presidents between Lincoln and Roosevelt?

Hmmm. I thought so.

Well, you really need this book.

Not only will it improve your sorry historical knowledge, it will crack you up, and give you material to throw your teachers off-balance for entire class per
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 22nd 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 13, 2010 Bridget rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get through this, but that's mostly because it's very easy to pick up and put down without losing your place or getting confused when you come back to it. It's almost a history textbook, but filled with snark and silly asides and funny quotes. It reminds me a bit of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America, only with more history and fewer gags.

I know some folks don't like all the public domain images, but I kind of loved that the pictures were what you'd find in an
Jan 30, 2010 Susan rated it it was ok
Shelves: read_and_review
Uneven, too silly, too cheap--I mean seriously, pony up for modern picture rights or don't use any at all and tell people to Google it, too much Billy Joel in the late 20th-century chapter.

It got pretty annoying to have them refusing to curse because of parents while still trying to stick it to the man by writing so-hip history. That's not really a line you can walk successfully.

Try Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the United States instead.
Mar 28, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it
An excellent guide to American History! Though listed as a kids book, I find that this is a great reference book for all ages. It contains information that any average American should know about the history of his own country. This book will enlighten its readers about both the little known facts and over-looked people of history and the lies and half-truths we have been passing off to school children for generations as "the whole truth and nothing but the truth". Required reading for all those ...more
Sep 29, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing
Best. Textbook. Ever.

Some may cringe at me labeling this a textbook because it is most definitely a parody chock full of laugh-out-loud humor, but it is structured as an American History text and the humor is all based on well-researched information. Even as I was delightfully entertained, the history buff in me was thrilled by all the factual review I was getting--along with some new things I learned. Honestly, I don't know why real textbooks don't work in humor like this to make the subject mo
Aug 31, 2014 Dj rated it really liked it
From the title, I was expecting to be somewhat annoyed with this book. Fortunately enough they only got Smart Alecky on occasion and generally in ways that didn't detract from the information that was being presented. Neither did the book go out of its way to try and say that they were giving you information that the Schools didn't because they Schools are lying to you. In most cases, they did point to a valid reason why things that were mentioned in some cases weren't brought up in history clas ...more
Oct 13, 2011 Lola rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History teachers and lovers with a sharp sense of humor
There aren't many interesting or fun things to do in Michigan, but one of the things I enjoy doing the most is visiting Greenfield Village. It's similar to Colonial Williamsburg only on a smaller scale with more variety. In addition to buildings such as Thomas Edison's workshop, it also had an awesome gift shop. Being the history nerd I am, I love the awesome selection of books. This is just one of the many books on American history I've picked up from there.

The Smart Aleck's Guide is not only
Allison Greene
Jul 27, 2011 Allison Greene rated it really liked it
This is an amusing read that will keep you laughing the whole way through. You won’t even realize you are learning! The Smart Alecks Guide to American History follows its name to the letter. The book starts off at the beginning of American History, with the first American settlers. Fun facts are sprinkled all throughout the book, and give content needed facts and even the silly ones. Adding silly facts (like Thomas Paine had terribly hygiene and only a few people attended his funeral) make these ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Being a history teacher and a sucker for autographed books, I found it ironic to meet this author at a Language Arts conference. He was sarcastically witty and instantly, I found his approach to American history refreshing. It was primarily tongue-in-cheek as is this book, sacrificing many unnecessary details for the essence of well-chronicled events. In other words, perfect for an average or uninterested middle schooler, or even one smart enough but only interested in being a class clown. It is ...more
Feb 19, 2015 Lyg rated it it was amazing
Although there was a plethora of pickle and smelly people jokes, this book stood out for high readability and details on aspects not typically covered or memorable in the standard history book. I learnt quite a bit more than I expected and even the information I already knew was made an enjoyable re-convention due to the writing style. The "forgettable presidents" and "some other stuff we missed" sections informed me on some things that I really did not know; I thought I could recognize the name ...more
Mark Flowers
Mar 28, 2011 Mark Flowers rated it it was amazing
There are much funnier books of satirical American history out there--The Daily Show's in particular (even Dave Barry Slept Here is pretty hilarious, if I remember)--but what sets this book apart is that Selzer actually attempts (and succeeds for the most part) to be accurate as well as funny. In other words, you can actually use this book to learn American history, not just make fun of it. And he does an excellent job of exploding various myths about America along the way. Pretty funny too - te ...more
Rebecca Radnor
Sep 19, 2010 Rebecca Radnor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
American history told in a way that is snarky, funny, entertaining, and focused on dispelling historical myths. Sometimes it gets so caught up in the humor of of the details that it misses the big picture, so sort of the inverse of The Daily Show's focus, but in that same vein. The history is shallow... and broad, covering James town to Obama in 400 pages that include big photos, and fake silly exams at the end of each chapter. Definitely useful as a teaching text for folks who aren't all that i ...more
Apr 15, 2015 Pumpkinpi rated it it was amazing
Oh my word. My sides are still aching from this great history book. Adam Seltzer somehow manages to teach you everything about American history, from Columbus on, without stooping to “fact-spouting” (blech!). I found that I knew, as a 5th grader, more about American history than most adults I know do! This is probably my ninth or tenth reading of the Smart Aleck’s Guide, and yet every time I still find a new hilarious joke, or weird fact. Even if you think you hate history, I recommend you try t ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Roberta rated it it was amazing
I must first admit I haven't read it front to back, but pick it up as a reference as I homeschool my kids. This is a book that teaches the reader to doubt what they are taught in textbooks and by well meaning teachers in a fun, mostly respectful way. It isn't respectful to the characters of history (for instance saying that Columbus couldn't have found his way out of a toilet bowl), but it gives you the reasons why the history was changed and why so many believe things that were never really tru ...more
May 03, 2010 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, non-fiction
Good fun. They are quite smart-alecky...reminding me of those really smart, slightly jerky kids in the back of the class who seemed not to care or ever do homework but still got, like, 110% on their essays and exams. This book appeals both to my daughter, who hates history and to me who loves it... so that's probably a good thing...the repeated use of only general domain photos got annoying after a while though...
Jun 04, 2012 Aaron rated it liked it
Maybe a 2.67 or 2.75 here. Starts out strong because everything from WAAAY long ago is easy to make fun of. But the Civil War and WWII, etc. are pretty hard to laugh about, and the authors don't laugh much in the section. So the idea was flawed to begin with, so the execution was not well done. Still, a fun ride through American history, one that would certainly be read by more tenth graders than their current texts!
Jun 06, 2016 H rated it liked it
A snarky and irreverent look at American history that also happens to be mostly correct (except for that egregious error about Amelia Earhart). I have it in my library because one 4th grader convinced others that they should select it. My guess is most of the students who checked it out didn't read it all, and I'm kind of glad, because it is a little mature. Perfect for hyper-smart-alecky teens with an interest in history. Others likely won't stick with it.
Feb 05, 2010 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The cure for the common history book. This irreverent take on American history digs into such weighty issues as the place of stupid hats at major junctions of history, who was the most boring president we ever had, and why Americans have smelled so bad for so long. Read this along side your real history text book and you might get a few laughs and a little perspective.
This was very funny and had a lot of interesting facts in it, and I think kids will love it. I think adults will get something out of it too. I loved the "stupid hats in history" thing. However, I do think the authors' habit of flirting with swear words without actually saying them was really annoying.
Jan 14, 2012 Toni rated it it was amazing
The reason for 5 stars? I refer to it almost on a daily basis with my two teens studying U.S. History in school. They will ask me for a clarification - and my answer always? Well let's check with the smart aleck's guide to see what they have to say.
Makes dates and people interesting!
Just a good book to have at home, especially for teens.
Jul 05, 2013 Dave rated it really liked it
Most people probably wouldn't care for the book but it was good for me. It covered a lot of history in a fast-paced, emergency-medicine-short-attention-span manner that appealed to me. I'm sure there are multiple books written on the topics these guys covered in a single page, seriously. However, not enough detail in it for it to make my "keeper, put on my bookshelf" status.
Sep 26, 2012 Valerie rated it it was amazing
I read this book twice it was so fun. Its the kind of book you can take wih you and interruptions won't bother you too much. It was humorous and "thought provoking"
and I gave my history buff mother a run for the money with my sarcastic wit. That right there was worth it.
Jun 06, 2010 Deb rated it really liked it
I found this funny and entertaining, irreverent and filled with little known facts, but somehow I didn't find it as laugh-out-loud enjoyable as Dave Barry's or Richard Armor's takes on the same subject matter. The "tests" at the end f some chapters were hiiarious, though.
Feb 11, 2012 Diana rated it liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
An irreverent take on American history, from its discovery to the present day.

A fun, if a bit incomplete, introduction to American history. The authors are amusing, and they do add some new nuggets of information or opinions that help cast new light on certain areas.
Mar 24, 2010 Kivette rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys American History. Or, anyone who enjoys sarcasm.
Shelves: borrowed
A short concise look at American History through the eyes of smart alecks. This book would be very useful to help readers remember basic facts of US History, due to the memorable jokes and wise-cracks.
Kelsi Erkkila
Apr 08, 2011 Kelsi Erkkila rated it liked it
Interesting, but too flippant. It does make history more entertaining.
Dec 18, 2012 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Very funny, and good for those who maybe don't enjoy a droning history teacher.
Clever and entertaining, this book is a great way to get students to read non-fiction (and learn about American history).
Jul 02, 2012 Amber rated it really liked it
Perfectly funny and light refresher on American history. I never liked history in high school or college, but I enjoyed this.
Aug 23, 2010 Harris rated it it was amazing
This book is the best book to read for american history, from random jokes about PICKLES and strange facts. Read this when you want a laugh and some real facts.
Dec 01, 2010 Teagan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: non-history buffs
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Outbreak! Plagues That Changed History
  • The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac: History
  • Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution
  • Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad! (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, #2)
  • The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons And Growing Up Strange
  • Unsolved Mysteries of American History: An Eye-Opening Journey Through 500 Years of Discoveries, Disappearances, and Baffling Events
  • Chicago: A Biography
  • How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines
  • The Dunderheads
  • The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West
  • Smek for President!
  • George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides
  • Axe Cop, Vol. 2: Bad Guy Earth
  • Touching America's History: From the Pequot War Through WWII
  • Pioneer Women: The Lives of Women on the Frontier
  • Griff Carver, Hallway Patrol
  • How to Win a Fight with a Conservative
  • That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing
Adam Selzer blocked Goodreads on his computer for years but now he's on here, so let him have it. His first book was HOW TO GET SUSPENDED AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (now available in a "Now With More Swearing") edition, his next one is PLAY ME BACKWARDS (for satanic young adults), and his best known is probably I KISSED A ZOMBIE AND I LIKED IT, a Twilight satire that was not marketed as a satire.

He also
More about Adam Selzer...

Share This Book

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the most sweeping civil rights legislation of its day, and included women's rights as part of its reforms. Ironically, the section on women's rights was added by a senator from Virginia who opposed the whole thing and was said to be sure that if he stuck something about womens' rights into it, it would never pass. The bill passed anyway, though, much to the chagrin of a certain wiener from Virginia.” 12 likes
More quotes…