Thucydides, Gibbon, Tuchman, McCullough-to the names of the world's great historians must now be added the name of Dave Barry, who has taken a long, hard look at our new millennium (so far) and, when he stopped hyperventilating, has written it all down, because nobody would believe it otherwise.
In November 2000, the skies darken over Florida as hundreds of thousands of lawyers parachute into the state from bombers, while in 2002, the federal budget surplus mysteriously disappears ("Everybody looks high and low for it, but the darned thing is gone!"). In April 2003, no WMD have been found, but investigators do discover three barrels of lard, described by U.S. intelligence analysts as "a heart attack waiting to happen," while in 2004, an already troubled nation receives an even greater blow: the sight of Janet Jackson's exposed nipple. In 2005, Katrina, Cindy, Harriet, Martha, Valerie, Paris, Michael Jackson-women just got crazy that year-while in November 2006 . . . well, something happened; it'll come back to us.
Plus, an extra added bonus-Dave Barry's complete history of the millennium so recently (and unlamentedly) gone: Crusaders! Vikings! Peter Minuit's purchase of Manhattan for $24, plus $167,000 a month in maintenance fees! The invention of pizza by Leonardo da Vinci and of the computer by Charles Babbage (who died in 1871 still waiting to talk to somebody from Technical Support)!
Liberally illustrated with line drawings, filled with facts and commentary that will amaze your friends and confound your enemies (yes, we mean you, Osama!), this is the book that will finally earn Dave Barry his second Pulitzer Prize. And about darned time, too.
Although Barry retired his column in 2004, he continues to examine current events with his annual Year in Review surveys, and the ones he wrote between 2000 and 2006 are collected here. He opens with a 33-page outline of history (from 1000 to 1999) in which we learn that the first book Gutenberg mass produced in 1455 was Codpieces of Passion by Danielle Steel, and that computer pioneer Charles Babbage died in 1871, still waiting to talk to someone from Technical Support. In 2002, airline industry losses prompted America West, in a cost-cutting measure, to eliminate the cockpit minibar 2003: Jayson Blair, leaving the New York Times thoroughly disgraced, is forced to accept a six-figure book contract 2004: Abu Ghraib photos revealed soldiers repeatedly forcing prisoners to look at the video of Janet Jackson's right nipple 2006: Osama bin Laden released another audiotape, for the first time making it downloadable from iTunes. As a time line of humor, some of Barry's jokes were probably funnier the year they were written, but it's still a breezy and entertaining read. The 32 clever cartoon illustrations brighten the book's pages. (Sept. 17)
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-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 16, 2007
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