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Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  4,182 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
"Bary turns his formidable wit to the subject of American history, with a result reminiscent of the Reduced Shakespeare Company: The better you know the original, the funnier it gets."
This time Dave Barry's subject is history, the way it's never been told before. Every single momentous event and crucial moment is covered, including...The Birthing Contract
ebook, 192 pages
Published July 28th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published 1989)
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Oct 08, 2008 Imogen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dude! This book BLEW MY MIND in sixth grade. I remember trying to eat dinner but not being able to put it down because I was cracking up so hard. There were jokes like:

"Something something about buffalo, or bison*, among the planes...

*Or, buffalo."

Fuckin amazing. I only bring this up because, in an effort to make american history easier, he consolidated every date to October 8th. Which is today!

(And also because I just read the Wordy Shipmates, which is another kind of funny US history book.)
May 01, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
I think I may have read this, but not entirely sure....

Even after starting, I'm not sure if I've read....

OK, STILL not sure, but I always forget how funny Dave Barry is. Here's the thing - there's a big difference between stand-up comedy and funny writing, and that's why books by funny people often fall flat. Barry is a funny writer, so he works best on the page.

Should you read it?

Self test:

1. Do you find this funny?

"In the words of the famous folksinger Woody Guthrie:

This land is your land,
Dec 12, 2009 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1980s
This Dave Barry book, titled "Dave Barry Slept Here" was quite funny. I very much enjoyed the booger joke on page 37. Numerous parts, including the...uhh...part about George Washington... were especially funny! I laughed aloud! Haha!

At the end of the book I was left with the sense that, although I'd just been entertained for an hour and a half, that I'd basically been doing the literary equivalent of shoving peeps up my nose. Peeps the candy, not the slang word for acquaintances.

Dave Barry is al
May 18, 2017 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this as a gift for my history-loving father, and could not put it down. So hilarious and ridiculous and laugh-out-loud entertaining. After my dad read it, I managed to permanently "borrow" it from him. The opening pages are so funny and wonderful, I used to read them to my 12th-grade students in a British Lit. course. What a blast.

From time to time, I still find myself telling people about this book--particularly the fact that every date in the book is October 13 (or whatever it is--be
Jan 31, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, history
Sometimes you just need a palate cleanser. Something to make you smile, that requires a minimum of thought for a maximum of entertainment. This is a dangerous thing to look for; it's all too easy to find oneself wading through a sea of dross, looking for funny but just finding silly, childish nonsense of a mediocre caliber.

The nice thing about Dave Barry is that he is silly childish nonsense of the highest caliber.

My family has been Barry fans for a long time running. When I was a kid, the new D
Nov 30, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dave Barry says in this book that it is intended as an alternative to "the boring method," i.e. the system used to teach history in schools today. He accomplishes this by only covering the interesting (and often fictional) parts of history, skipping over the long, boring facts that fill most history textbooks. His dates are all simplified to October 8 for easy memorization, in order to "not waste brain cells on trivial details such as when events actually occurred." This edition of the book was ...more
Lucy Blue
I love Dave Barry's columns, and I think I would love this book if I read it in column-sized chunks. But the constant barrage of chapter after chapter became a little bit like riding a school bus with a kid who has just learned all the words to a camp song about poop.
Oct 12, 2014 BrokenTune rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Dear Dave,

What happened here then?

Last time we met - in Hobbs, NM, if I remember right - you made me laugh so hard, I could hardly breathe. So what's with the half-hearted attempt at an alternative history?

I get that there are episodes that are left out of the US history books, but why did you need to write about the ones that were left out because they just aren't interesting. Could you not have chosen to present the ones that have an air of controversy about them?

What happened to Dave, the j
Emily Johnson
May 31, 2008 Emily Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Um, I don't think that I have ever laughed so hard in my life. I read a lot of fiction, so this was out of the ordinary for me. If you aren't familiar with Dave Barry, he is a humor columnist (or whatever you call them) for newspapers around the country and he has written a lot of hilarious books. This one and his Book of Bad Songs are my favorites. You don't have to be into history to enjoy this fact, it's probably better if you aren't. :) He doen't make a big point of being accurate. ...more
Jul 13, 2007 Baltimoregal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absurdists, ironic historians, slackers, researchers, dorks
This book STILL makes me laugh so hard I cry after all these years. I honestly get hysterical. It's just the right mix of almost-fact, partial fiction and outright silliness that just gets to me. Dave's take on American history is one I could have used in junior high- that's for sure!

With chapters like "The Civil War: A Nation Pokes Itself in the Eyeball" and "The Reagan-Bush Years: Napping Toward Glory", you can tell the tone of the book, I think. If not, here's a quote from Chapter 2, "Spain
May 26, 2012 Mars rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's standard Barry - some of the jokes are actually quite spectacularly good, but most of them are eh.

Still a worthwhile read, and short enough to end before it starts getting really annoying.

For instance, here are some discussion questions from the end of Chapter 7 (and also some of the best one-liners in the book):


1) How come history books never have sex scenes? You know, like "James Madison, unable to restrain his passion any longer, thrust his ink-engorged pen into the s
Jan 18, 2011 Coyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leslie Nielsen needs to still be alive to read this book into audio format.

This book is funny, but here's the thing. You know how the Airplane! movies are hilarious? As are the Naked Gun and Hot Shots films? Have you ever tried to sit down and watch all of them straight through? It's the equivalent of snorting powdered glass while staring into the sun with a pair of binoculars. This book is the same way. Read 2-3 pages (or, rarely, even a full chapter) at a time, it's darned hilarious. But, if,
Jun 20, 2012 Charly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone. Especially American history fans
I was looking for a quick humorous piece, and this fit the bill. I don't follow his columns that much but I knew that Barry wrote some funny stuff. This book is an irreverent review of the history of the US , while also taking a shot at the fact that many Americans do not know our history. Worth the effort.
Jan 24, 2017 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny but not nearly so much as some of his other books. Quick read of course but just not the biting humor I expected.
Jun 03, 2017 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summer 2017 - Too funny. Great break from heavier reading.
S. J.
May 24, 2012 S. J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History lovers, Humor lovers
Recommended to S. by: Husband
*5+++ Stars*

*The Gush*
Let me say first off that I don't read Dave Barry. I think I've read a total of 15 from his Cyberspace book and this. I don't actually get into his humor that much. This, however, is brilliant. When I first read this, I was like, "where has this been all my life!?" As a History major and lover of American history particularly (also British, WWI, and WWII, but that's neither here nor there), I knew exactly what he was talking about nearly all the time. That is the key to thi
Kiki Hughes
This book is amusing but if you don't know your history you will miss many of the jokes. Also, I do wonder how many people will read it and believe everything.
Apr 28, 2011 Pawan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the craziest books I have ever read. Dave Barry is an American author and satirist. His humor and satire is really over the top. If he gets after somebody then God help that person or country. I have read some of his books earlier but “Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of The United States” is really unbelievable. In this book the author has written about his own take on the history of United States and made it so crazy that you end up laughin
Jul 07, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, 2016
Originally read: 09/10/1999, reread: 03/07/2016

Update: Interesting to read again many years older (14 vs. 31), and after plenty of education in feminism, race & gender studies, and Latin American studies in college. I cranked through it this time, and think I only had one real laugh out loud moment - whereas when I took Dave Barry books to concerts as a young teen, we had to sit in the back row because I was laughing so much :)

Reading a lot of it, I remembered the jokes I'd laughed at 16 yea
Feb 13, 2017 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this years ago and recently stumbled on a copy, so re-read it. It's short, and I do recommend reading it again or for the first time.

The last couple of chapters will make you wonder if Dave Barry is psychic.
Huma Rashid
Jan 23, 2011 Huma Rashid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely adore this book. In the summer before 11th grade, my AP US History teacher sent home a biiiiig packet full of summer reading that we were going to be tested on every day for the first week or two of school. It was daunting and horrifying...until I realized that a lot of it was made up of a print-out of this book. (We still had like 10 chapters to read from our book, so the assignment was still horrifying and daunting, but this made it a lot better.)

Dave Barry is a brilliant columni
Jan 25, 2011 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A scathing laughfest of American History from Pilgrims up through the first Bush Administration, unfortunately without the Clinton years and Bush II. History is funny as long as Dave Barry is your "historian", albeit one who seems unable to recall any dates except "October 8". SPOILERS; It is filled with remarks such as "The separation of powers creates a system of checks-and-balances, ensuring that any action taken by one part of the government is rendered utterly meaningless by an equal and op ...more
Dec 26, 2013 Becki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I admit to sleeping through most of my history classes in high school. I admit to not knowing as much about my country’s history as my Vietnamese friend that just took her citizenship test. Helping her study was a huge eye opener to the fact that I am a numbskull about American history. So, in order to rectify that I thought I would do a bit of research, pick up a book here and there that would brighten my brain and increase my knowledge on American History. This was the wrong book to pick up. H ...more
Sep 10, 2012 Epizeuxis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who: hated history class, enjoy laughing.
Shelves: humor, nonfiction
I really disliked the history classes that I was required to take throughout high school. I loved several of my teachers, but the subject itself was always dull and incredibly dry, no matter what method was used to approach it.

Barry, being the brilliant man that he is, realized that the best way to make such a frustrating subject fun is to avoid talking about anything that could be considered even remotely educational . I learned more from this quick read than I have from the last fourteen year
Dec 31, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
I've read this book a few times throughout my life. It brings back memories of sitting next to my mom at the library - both of us trying desperately (and failing spectacularly) to not make too much noise laughing. Dave Barry's writing consistently makes me laugh until I'm crying, and I love him for it.

This book is different than some of his other work. Typically his books are a collection of separate/unrelated articles he's written, but this book tells the "history" of the United States. It's a
Aug 30, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, this book! It came in to my life at exactly the right time...

I was going through my divorce and had just moved into our new rental. The kids were at Dad's for the weekend. And I laid on the couch, read this book, and laughed... and laughed... and laughed... Well, you get the idea.

This was my introduction to Dave Barry and I had to then go find more of his crazy-humor books. His off-the-wall silliness fits my own brand of absurdity and just makes me chuckle, if not out and out laugh out loud.
Jun 11, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know what you are going to get with this book. Dave Barry is a very funny and talented writer who tries to break into the dry, dusty history textbook genre. I didn't find this book a gut-buster (as some of his other writing is), he employed quite a few great jewels. His running "October 8th" gag was definitely "memorable."

The nice thing about this book is that although he plays fast and loose with the details, he obviously has some insight and respect for the subject. He doesn't try to make
Sep 16, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-the-author, lfl
This very old book was at the Little Free Library aka LFL. I have always enjoyed stuff by Dave Barry, so I picked it up based solely on the author's name.
The first half of the book covers the parts of US history that I slept through in school. The second half covers the remaining parts, those I lived through. (Maybe I should have slept through those as well.)
As a history, the book gets in quite a few one-liners. The footnotes are sometimes the best part.
Under the heading of prescience, the last
Feb 21, 2009 Philitsa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laugh out loud funny! This book was given to me when my stiff history major boyfriend was in the hospital for a while. I would read this to him, he'd fall asleep, and I'd continue reading it for myself. I wish history in school was this easy to remember! All events occurred on October 8th. Each major event in US history is broken down into sections, like, "Deflowering a Virgin Continent", "The Civil War: The Nation Pokes Itself in the Eye", and "Groping Toward Empire". And each section has revie ...more
Alexis Neal
Jun 22, 2010 Alexis Neal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: breakfast-club
Man, I love this book. Dave Barry is consistently hilarious, but this book is especially brilliant. I don't know that much about history, but the more I learn, the funnier this book becomes. I've always appreciated Barry's even-handed political satire--no one is safe. If you behave ridiculously, you will be made to look ridiculous. And when it comes to this particular book, not even the reader is safe from Barry's insightful criticism.

It's an easy read, and a fun one, but there's probably wisdo
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Dave Barry is a humor columnist. For 25 years he was a syndicated columnist whose work appeared in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Many people are still trying to figure out how this happened.
Dave has also written a total of 30 books, although virtually none of them contain useful information. Two of his books were used as
More about Dave Barry...

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“The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They're the kind of people who'd stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn't bother to stop because they'd want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club” 87 likes
“In the words of a very famous dead person, 'A nation that does not know its history is doomed to do poorly on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.” 33 likes
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