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4.6 out of 5 stars32
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on 25 April 2000
I mean it - and I'm a hard man to please - even more so when it comes to Americans and what they often deem to be funny. My only caveat is a requirement for any reader to be capable of revelling in absurdly idiotic humour - think the absolute cream of Monty Python, Blackadder and Private Eye all rolled into one.
Dumb Century is a true piece of comic genius - incredible detail, a hit/miss gag ratio unmatched in anything I've read or seen recently. This is a book I will treasure for a very long time, dip into again and again, and dig out the second my future kids start struggling to maintain their interest in A-Level history. Brilliant.
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on 12 February 2004
Satire is used to perfection in this book, a ficticious recounting of the headlines of the 20th Century. As the editor of this newspaper calls it, this is "funny fake news."
The great thing about this book is that the stories are often related with the utter indifference one suspects reporters must develop after years on the job, packaged for the short attention span the public often has. These articles take the folly and "real" stories behind the stories, the ones that were never talked about in their day, and prints them as front page and headline news. Try, for example: "Eleanor Roosevelt, Nation Hails our First Lesbian President." Or regarding Pearl Harbor, "Dastardly Japs Bomb Colonially Occupied US Non-State." Or how about terming Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio's magical appeal as, "Nation Captived by Fairytale Wedding of Sullen Loner, Depressed Pill-Popper." Or the optimistic, "Drugs Win Drug War" alongside a picture of a bong-smoking man in tie-dye approaching the presidential podium. Page after page of "reprinted" front pages (a joke in itself, because there certainly was no Onion in 1904) makes this a great read which literally brought tears to my eyes.
Life ain't always pretty, but with the Onion it is always funny.
Andrew Parodi
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on 8 May 1999
I have always been a little disappointed with the weekly editions of the Onion. The few comedic gems are tarnished by the more mundane body of material. Of course I have to admit that it is an immense task to publish a weekly full newspaper parody that keeps up with current events as well as the Onion does. So it is understandable that not every article reverberates with the hilarity of "Jesus converts to Islam". This book gives the writers of the Onion the opportunity to concentrate the key events of each year of the past century into one or two pages of material. The result is that all of the writers' talents shine through. The headlines and stories give an educated, irreverent, sometimes a tad offensive, and sometimes remarkably insightful twist to the most important events of the American twentieth century. The book is not perfect. I felt it faltered slightly from the mid 80s to the present (there could be a correlation between this sentiment and the fact that the period from the mid 80s to the present is the only period which I have personally experienced). Nevertheless, this is a wonderful book which I rate right up there with such classics as "Bored of the Rings".
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on 27 September 1999
DO buy this book if you are politically correct! It is a masterwork, with wonderful detail (see changes in the front page banner, changing from verbose to snappy as the nation's attention span dwindles with the century). If you are prepared to be offended by satisists using headlines like the above or "Al Jolson accidentally lynched by Ku Klux Klan" you probably wouldn't get much out of humorous books. See the review of the audio book by Royce Chang ("This Chinaman loved it") - the humour is at the expense of American/western society and attitudes, not the poor, racial minorities or whoever. Look at some newspapers of the 1910s and see if some published opinions were less or more offensive to modern eyes than the Onion's stories. I am ordering copies for all my friends' Christmas presents. Onion, you are perfect, don't ever change.
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on 14 February 2000
Finally, humour has reached a new level with "Our Dumb Century".
WAR ENDS AS ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND IS FOUND ALIVE - "How fares Europe" asks presumed dead count.
Salman Rushdie brings out new book: "F**k Allah"
Etc...Etc...
BUT, in order to enjoy the book, you must
1. Have very little political correctness 2. Be able to take a joke aimed at you (odds are there will be a lot) 3. Have a good knowledge of the century 4. Know how to read
Order and Enjoy
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on 13 July 1999
Visiting the sicker half of my family in British Columbia, I came across "The Onion" sitting on my aunt and uncle's coffee table. Unsuspectingly, I picked it up, assuming it to be one of those humdrum local papers....The further I read, the more I laughed. My cousin caught me with his paper in hand, and came back the next day to torture me some more with the "our dumb century". By supper time, we all stood around the book, letting the food burn, howling, pointing out various sick, satirical headlines. Definately not for the faint of heart, but if you've got a thick skin, a balanced sense of how the universe truly operates, and can crack a smile now and again when someone flies in the face of the insipid "PC" movement, this is for you.
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on 19 July 1999
The term black humour was coined for this book. I only discovered the Onion on the Web recently and am already addicted to it's wonderfully cynical view of world events but this book is, if possible, even funnier.
The editors cast their baleful eye over the events of the 20th Century leaving no target (however "sensitive") unscathed - the result will have you choking on your laughter in public places!
Who can resist headlines like "drugs Win Drugs War" or "Belgium Hides"
Buy it!
Mo Baig
Who can resist
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on 20 May 2001
Move over "The (Deeper) Meaning of Liff," there's a new contender in town for the title of Best Value Humorous Book Ever Written. And, with all respect to the late DNA, The Onion wins by an American mile.
The earlier stuff, where the editors have wider opportunity to make stories up entirely, is much better than the more recent material, which by necessity has to rely largely on satirical views of news events we've already seen lampooned to death.
As one commentator lower down in the pack realised, it is important to ignore the comments of those reviewers who say "Don't buy it if you're politically correct." They're the idiots who think jokes about "China-men" are *about* the Chinese, and would presumably fail too to see the real butt of the story "Christopher Reeve Placed Atop Washington Monument" in the companion volume "Finest News Reporting Vol. 1." In truth of course, The Onion is impeccably politically correct (in the real sense of the term), aiming as it does to "accelerate" the evolution of commonsense and decency by highlighting the absurdities of our previous views and forcing them to be cast aside.
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on 6 June 2000
Genuinely one of the funniest books I've read. Intelligent satire but also some good old puerile, infantile stuff, which is laugh-out-loud funny. Some references to American TV stars/shows etc, are meaningless to the British reader, but don't let that put you off - overall this is a fantastic book.
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on 24 July 2009
I bought this book as a present for my dad as I'd read all the reviews and I think The Onion's fantastic.

The contents of the book didn't disappoint, perhaps it's a little too American based, but it's funny throughout.

My one fairly major downside is that I didn't really understand quite how miniature this edition would be. I was expecting maybe A5 sized, but in actual fact the book is about 3cm cubed, so doesn't make the best present! As I'd bought the book with another, larger, book; Amazon mailed it to me in a box big enough to store enough food to cure world hunger, which made it look even more pitiful when I took it out.

So. Plus sides- Funny book, distilled Onion wizardry, pocket sized
Down sides- Pocket sized.
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