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Sex on Earth: A Celebration of Animal Reproduction
Jules Howard

The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody

The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody (Nonpareil Book) - Will Cuppy, William Steig I enjoyed Cuppy's take on history at a humorous angle. Some of the humor is dated as it was written in the '30s and '40s, although there is plenty which holds up to the test of time.

"Practically Everybody" I thought would imply a large number of individuals, however, there were not many historical figures actually contained in the book (perhaps it was meant to be snarky). I think this may have largely to do with Cuppy's style of research, in which he apparently read everything there is on his topic before writing a few pages worth of summary.

Despite this large amount of research, I felt many of the historical figures had very little said about them when all was said and done. A number of the figures I knew a good amount about and know that Cuppy did not include MANY key facts, as far as I see it, in their mini bios. Albeit he only had so much space but if you are going to read book after book about a person at least include more information. I ended up feeling like he only included bits of people's lives he could find entertaining or make a snarky remark about. Yes, humor is great but I think Cuppy was actually intending to teach through humor and he did not do much of that. The historical figures I knew little about before the book I still knew little about after the book.

This was published after Cuppy's death, so I wonder who else he intended to include? I was rather surprised that Julius Caesar was not included in the book at the very least (although he is made fun of in Cleopatra's bio). As for Cleo's bio, my love of all things Cleopatra failed to allow me to enjoy it as much as others may--Cuppy felt the need to call Marc Antony fat and essentially stupid (neither of which you could convince me or many historians of). The entirety of Cleo's bio is practically Cuppy entertaining himself by making fun of Cleo's relationships and the looks of the men she is said to have loved. I wonder where all the fat jokes were for Henry VIII? Why so much more harsh with Marc Antony of all people?

Overall, the book was entertaining but a let down of sorts for me. I love history and I love humor but this just did not combine them as well as I hoped. The bio of Cuppy himself was interesting, his being a hermit and hating essentially all noise I tend to agree with.