Bad Days in History
A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the YearBook - 2015
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We’ve all had bad days. Days that start poorly (stubbing one’s toe on the foot of the bed), continue badly (coffee cream gone off), get worse (flat tire in the rain), rise to a pitch of calamity (power outage before saving tomorrow’s big presentation) and finish with one in a foetal position under a desk sucking one’s thumb and whimpering for mama. Been there, done that, every single one of us.
But while you might be having a bad day, this book proves that someone is always having a worse day than you. For instance, if you are feeling blue but reading this on May 14, just remember the folks known as Wobblies in early twentieth-century San Diego. Quite the outspoken labour extremists, they were and City council banned them from speaking publicly. However when several of their supporters turned up to hear them speak on May 14, 1912, they were literally tarred and feathered (amongst several other things) by vigilantes before being drummed out of town. Or, if you haven’t got to your Gazette before Friday, May 15th and you’ve been feeling dejected, remember poor soap actress Susan Lucci, who on this date in 1998 was an 18-time Daytime Emmys loser. (Ouch.)
So it could always be worse. Farquhar has taken bites out of history from all over the world and all eras to compile this fascinating read. Naturally it is quite long – there are 365 days in the year and several bites require a bit of explanation – but each diurnal entry is written in a highly conversational and quotable style, so is unlike any history text snoozed over in school. (In fact, had history been taught like this we might all be experts on the Renaissance and French Revolution.) For the history buffs, Farquhar mercifully includes an extensive bibliography, so if one of the tales of terrific trouble tickles the desire for more, one doesn’t have to search far for more.
Like a Farmer’s Almanac for distressful dates, Bad Days in History is a great read for history buffs and hobbyists alike, and definitely recommended for anyone who needs a little karmic boost. So go ahead and indulge in a little Schadenfreude, because we’ve all been there!
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