After working on research for The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody for 16 years, Author Will Cuppy died. That’s a damn shame because he was a freakin genius. I’ve not yet read any of his animal books, like How to Tell Your Friends From The Apes, but I plan to very soon.
The Decline and Fall was put together from Cuppy’s notes and finished by his good friend Fred Feldkamp. From what I gather it was very true to Cuppy’s style though and is absolutely his book in spite of the assembly by another.
So what’s it about? It’s history like you’ve never read it before. It’s history as it should be taught. It’s factual with no holds barred and hilarious as hell. Decline is divided into various headings such as It Seems There Were Two Egyptians, Ancient Greeks and Worse (where he expounds on folks like Pericles and Alexander the Great), and Strange Bedfellows, which is my favorite section. I won’t bore you with a complete list. I’m afraid you’ll have to just go buy the damn thing yourself. Heh.
Strange Bedfellows proved to be my favorite because he talks about Charlemagne in this part. See now, I have the full size repro of Charlemagne’s shield and sword hanging on my wall… not because I think he was great, but because I think he sucked majorly. He’s been heralded through history as the man who brought religion to the masses and unified Europe. Bull. He was a bloody destroyer who brought Christianity to the folks he thought had the most wealth to plunder… and Cuppy supports my long held feelings in this, only Cuppy is much funnier about it…
Charlemagne’s strong point was morals. He was so moral that some people thought he was only fooling. These people came to no good. Naturally, he wanted to improve others, notably the heathen Saxons, who had stored an immense treasure in a hollow tree called the Irminsul in honor of Woden, or Irmin for short. So he paid them a visit, baptized them all and chopped down the Irminsul, and out fell the contents right into Charlemagne’s lap. And was he surprised! Well, they asked for it.
That’s just a small taste. This is one of the cleverest books I’ve read on history to date. Cuppy puts in a ton of really funny footnotes too. At first I was a bit irritated to have to keep looking to the bottom of the page, but it’s worth it. Trust me on this. Cuppy delivers the majority of his wit very dryly, so you have to be on your toes to realize when he’s grinning madly.
..Eric became more respectable, because it paid so much better. (2)
2. He got so that he murdered hardly anyone.
Cuppy covers everyone who is anyone from the dark ages to the late Renaissance, including Chris Columbus and Leif Ericksson. I found myself laughing rather loudly at numerous points and having to explain to friends what the hell was so funny. Some of the jabs are a bit inside, but if you know anything about the particular person he’s on at the time, you will likely get the joke.
Cuppy, like I said, spent 16 years researching all this, so it’s taken from a myriad of sources and these are the conclusions that Cuppy came too. It’s as factual as any other historical text can possibly be. As such, I would use this as THE history text for this era if I were teaching… without hesitation. All you teachers out there take head. History is normally a rather dry subject, use this. It’ll get their attention right nicely!
Cuppy died in 1949 and the book was printed a year later by his friend Fred. It isn’t dated in the least. The comedic bits are just as fresh and funny as I’m sure they were back then.
There are a total of eight parts, each of which cover anywhere from two to five historical figures. There is just a whole lot of great info packed into this book’s 230 pages, and every page will have you at least smiling broadly. I read it all last night in one sitting.
My recommendation? Buy it this instant. Go on… shoo.