|Alexander the Great|
When it was first published in 1950, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody spent four months on The New York Times best-seller list, and Edward R. Murrow devoted more than two-thirds of one of his nightly CBS programs to a reading from Cuppy's historical sketches, calling it "the history book of the year." The book eventually went through eighteen hardcover printings and ten foreign editions, proof of its impeccable accuracy and deadly, imperishable humor.
We won’t claim that the book offers everything you need to know about the historical figures it discusses, ranging from Attila the Hun to Queen Elizabeth to John Smith. No, what Cuppy does is offer up the BEST facts of their lives, if not the most relevant ones. You’ll learn that Cleopatra loved pranking Antony, or that Lady Godiva liked to run around naked as a young girl: you’ll learn just enough that you’ll want to learn more. It’s impossibly to make it through one of his stories without laughing out loud, but most importantly, they’ll leave you curious for the rest of the story. We’d advise this book for everyone, young and old, to inspire a little learning in one’s life.
*Be sure not to skip the footnotes! Cuppy’s sharpest wit is saved for these oft forgotten lines. He injects his own version of what he think is happening, blurring the line between hyperbolic humor and truth. It’s as though Cuppy himself is reading the story with you. The footnotes are his dry, interjected comments that will have you in tears of laughter.
Read an Excerpt from the book below!
ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Alexander III of Macedonia was born in 356 B.C., on the sixth day of the month of Lous.1 He is known as Alexander the Great because he killed more people of more different kinds than any other man of his time.2 He did this in order to impress Greek culture upon them. Alexander was not strictly a Greek and he was not cultured, but that was his story, and who am I to deny it?3
Alexander's father was Philip II of Macedonia. Philip was a man of broad vision. He drank a good deal and had eight wives. He subdued the Greeks after they had knocked themselves out in the Peloponnesian War and appointed himself Captain General so that he could uphold the ideals of Hellas. The main ideal of Hellas was to get rid of Philip, but he didn't count that one. He was assassinated in 336 B.C. by a friend of his wife Olympias.4
Olympias, the mother of Alexander, was slightly abnormal. She was an Epirote. She kept so many sacred snakes in her bedroom that Philip was afraid to go home after his drinking bouts.5 She told Alexander that his real father was Zeus Ammon, or Amon, a Graeco-Egyptian god in the form of a snake. Alexander made much of this and would sit up all night boasting about it.6 He once executed thirteen Macedonians for saying that he was not the son of a serpent. . . .
1 That is what the Macedonians called the month of Hecatombaeon, Plutarch says, and he ought to know.
2 Professor F. A. Wright, in his Alexander the Great, goes so far as to call him "the greatest man that the human race has as yet produced."
3 He spoke what was known as Attic Greek.
4 After Philip's death, Olympias had one of his wives boiled alive. Shows what she thought of her.
5 Having real snakes at home does an alcoholic no good. It just complicates matters.
6 He got so that he believed it himself.