The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History
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The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  123 ratings  ·  32 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...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published December 22nd 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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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...more
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
Dec 18, 2011 Lola rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Allison Greene
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
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...more
Mar 14, 2011 Dave rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Mark Flowers
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
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
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.
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!
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Apr 07, 2010 Kivette rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
I am surprised by home much I actually learned from this book. It was extremely entertaining. The experiments to try at home and the end-of-chapter tests were my favourite bits of the book.
I've always liked history, and I've always been a smart aleck, so I liked everything about this book. It's one to browse rather than read front to back, another thing I like.
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.
A funny, sarcastic, yet enlightening and educational look at American History. I wish this was my textbook when I was in high school.
Clever and entertaining, this book is a great way to get students to read non-fiction (and learn about American history).
Perfectly funny and light refresher on American history. I never liked history in high school or college, but I enjoyed this.
I didn't have high hopes for this one, but it was surprisingly funny and insightful.
Kelsi Erkkila
Interesting, but too flippant. It does make history more entertaining.
Very funny, and good for those who maybe don't enjoy a droning history teacher.
Emily, this would great for scholars' bowl!
Dec 01, 2010 Teagan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: non-history buffs
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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 the I KISSED A ZOMBIE AND I LIKED IT, a Twilight satire that was not marketed as a satire (an...more
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