The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp through Civilization's Best Bits

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9780060784775: The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp through Civilization's Best Bits

About 60,000 years ago, the first Homo sapiens were just beginning their move across the grasslands and up the ladder of civilization. Everything since then, as they say, is history. Just in case you were sleeping in class that day, the geniuses at mental_floss magazine have put together a hilarious (and historically accurate) primer on everything you need to know-and that means the good stuff. Twelve core chapters of world history tackle everything from civilization's baby steps in the Fertile Crescent to the Not-Really-That-Dark-Unless-You-Lived-in-Europe Ages to A World United by Terror and TV. From the Golden Haemorhoids of the Philistines (punishment from above) to the likely namesake of the cartoon elephant Babar (a Mongol prince) to the most pressing language translation issues facing the menus of today ("carp" vs. "crap"), all of history's most interesting bits have finally been handpicked and roasted to perfection.

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Review:

History is . . .
(a) more or less bunk.
(b) a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken.
(c) as thoroughly infected with lies as a street whore with syphilis.

Match your answers:
(1) Stephen Daedalus of James Joyce's Ulysses
(2) Henry Ford
(3) Arthur Schopenhauer

It turns out that answer need not be bunk, nightmarish, or diseased. In the hands of mental_floss, history's most interesting bits have been handpicked and roasted to perfection. Packed with little-known stories and outrageous—but accurate—facts, you'll laugh yourself smarter on this joyride through 60,000 years of human civilization. Remember: just because it's true, doesn't mean it's boring!

Exclusive: Amazonian Tips for Amazon.com

When you think of the word “Amazon,” we’re sure the first thing that comes to mind is the fantastic website where you can buy our book (buy our book!) or half-naked warrior women. But here are three tantalizing tidbits you might not know--and why you need to act now.

1. Find Gold
There’s something about long, tropical rivers that seems to drive people batty. But the Basque conquistador Lope de Aguirre was by all accounts a murderous sociopath long before he got to the Amazon. Take, for instance, the time a judge sentenced Aguirre to be flogged. The brutish Basque hunted the terrified magistrate across 4,000 miles of rough South American terrain, barefoot, to kill him! So, in 1560, it probably wasn’t the best idea to invite Aguirre along on the quest to find El Dorado, the legendary city of gold. After 900 miles of unbroken rain forest, Aguirre was fed up. He led a mutiny that killed more than half of his fellow conquistadors. Then, he declared himself prince of Peru, Tierra Firma, and Chile. Eventually he and his tiny army attacked Panama...where he was killed and dismembered so his body parts could be paraded around the colony.
The bright side: El Dorado is still out there, waiting for you to discover it! Just don’t bring a friend like Lope.

2. Invest a Dollar
When it’s not making people crazy, the Amazon seems to inspire bizarre, larger-than-life schemes. In 1967, American shipping magnate and billionaire Daniel Ludwig bought a larger-than-Connecticut sized chunk of the Amazon to create a gigantic industrial and agricultural complex called the Jari Project. It didn’t work out. All the construction led to massive soil erosion, screwing up the “agricultural” part of his plan. After sinking $1 billion into the project (back when $1 billion really meant something) Ludwig called it quits in 1982. It was eventually put up for sale for $1--a great deal, if you’re willing to assume $354 million in debt.
The bright side: For anyone with a dollar and a dream, it’s your lucky day: the Jari Project is still for sale!

3. Make New Friends
The pictures of spear-wielding tribesmen produced in May 2008 may have been a hoax, but it’s true that there are literally dozens of so-called “uncontacted” native tribes in the Amazon basin--Stone Age peoples who have never had any contact with the outside world! While this seems preposterous, it makes sense when you consider the Basin’s size, over 2.7 million square miles in area, half of which is covered by dense rain forest and divided by 15,000 rivers and tributaries. Altogether, there are believed to be about three dozen uncontacted tribes in Brazil and 15 in Peru.
The bright side: If you’re up for the adventure, you have more than 50 chances to claim fame and fortune. Just make sure you don’t accidentally give everyone smallpox.

... And so much more!
What you’ve just read isn’t available in our book, but don’t worry--roughly 82% of the rest of history is. Our twelve essential chapters tackle everything from civilization’s baby steps in the Fertile Crescent to the Pope’s first text message, the 6,000-pound super-wombats of early Australia to the Goose Crusade of 1096, the golden hemorrhoids of the Philistines to the most important assassinations of the 20th century, and everything else that’s wacky, entertaining, and completely, unbelievably true.

About the Author:

Erik Sass is a journalist based in Los Angeles with branch offices around the country. When not writing for mental_floss, he reports on the media and advertising business for MediaPost.com.



An award-winning political journalist and history writer for more than three decades, Steve Wiegand has worked as a reporter and columnist for the San Diego Evening Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Sacramento Bee, where he currently covers state government and politics.

During his career, he has interviewed four presidents and six California governors—and has the dubious distinction of once being airsick and throwing up on the shoes of the state attorney general's wife.

It may have been his greatest personal contribution to world history.

Wiegand is a graduate of Santa Clara University, where he majored in American literature and U.S. history. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Mass Communications from California State University, San Jose.

In addition to The mental_floss History of the World, Wiegand is the author of U.S. History for Dummies, Sacramento Tapestry, and Papers of Permanence, a contributing author to mental_floss presents: Forbidden Knowledge, and a frequent contributor to mental_floss magazine.

He lives in Northern California.



Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur met as first year students at Duke University. Ignoring the lures of law school and investment banking, the pair co-founded mental_floss and have been grinning ever since. Maggie Koerth-Baker is a freelance journalist and a former assistant editor at mental_floss magazine, where she consistently astounded Will and Mangesh with her amazingness.

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2008. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An irreverent romp through history s best bits, The Mental Floss History of the World is an amazingly entertaining joyride through 60,000 years of human civilization. As audacious as it is edifying, here is a hilarious and irreverent--yet always historically accurate--overview of the ascent (or descent) of humankind, courtesy of the same rebel geniuses who brought you Mental Floss presents Condensed Knowledge and Mental Floss Presents Forbidden Knowledge. Updated with all the hot topics and events of the past few years, The Mental Floss History of the World is proof positive that just because something s true doesn t mean it s boring. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780060784775

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