817: Dave Barry Slept Here by Dave Barry

by Gerard


817.0973: Barry, Dave. Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1989. 175 pp. ISBN 0-4499-0462-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American literature in English
  • 817: American humor and satire in English
  • +09: With respect to history
  • +73: United States

When I was a kid, Dave Barry was just about the funniest writer I knew. My mother got me hooked, and while his style and wit have fallen off in recent years, I find it hard not to go back to him for a chuckle or two. Because most of his classic writing was for a weekly newspaper column, it’s a bit dated but funny nonetheless. In Dave Barry Slept Here, he takes a look at American history in a way that only he can, with eye toward potential exploding animals, the absolute importance of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, and acts of Congress that would also make good names for a rock band.

One of the best lines in the book has to be the following: “Notable achievements of the Millard Fillmore administration: The Earth did not crash into the sun.” For some reason, this line has stuck with me since I read this nearly two decades ago, and every time someone mentions Fillmore, I have to suppress a small smile. This book isn’t nearly as satirical as the Daily Show’s send up of American history, but rather depends on mildly corny (but still funny) reinterpretations of historical events. You won’t need more than a day to breeze through this one, but it will be a day well spent. It’s twisted and witty and lot of fun.