Praise for Michael Farquhar:
Michael Farquhar doesn’t write about history the way, say, Doris Kearns Goodwin does. He writes about history the way Doris Kearns Goodwin’s smart-ass, reprobate kid brother might. I, for one, prefer it.—Gene Weingarten, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Washington Post columnist
Advance praise for BAD DAYS IN HISTORY:
The facts of this passing parade of perfidious knaves, nasty poltroons, incompetent liars and just some unlucky folk who slipped on bygone banana peels make for leisurely reading—and it’s surely a story to be continued. Candid snapshots of some truly bad days in the bleak annals of civilization.—Kirkus Reviews
WASHINGTON (March 27, 2015)—Historian and best-selling author Michael Farquhar’s BAD DAYS IN HISTORY: A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the Year (National Geographic Books; ISBN: 978-1-4262-1268-0 (hardcover) and 978-1-4262-1280-2 (ebook); April 21, 2015; $26) is a carefully curated calendar of humankind’s most entertaining catastrophes. With his signature tongue-in-cheek humor, Farquhar leads readers on a 365-day tour of history’s worst happenings gleaned from recent and distant eras, events well-known and obscure, locations near and far, and people famous, infamous and forgotten.
Farquhar explains in his introduction, “There are literally billions of miserable episodes throughout human history from which to choose.” Here he has collected the most amusing examples that will offer even the most miserable readers excellent company:
- Made a bad financial decision? Consider investor Ronald Wayne’s regrettable decision on Jan. 3, 1977. That day, he sold his 10 percent stake in a fledgling business for a satisfying $800. Unfortunately, the company was Apple, and his slice of the pie would eventually have been worth more than $30 billion.
- Kids driving you crazy? When Christian schoolmaster Cassian of Imola refused to participate in a pagan sacrifice on Aug. 13, 363, he was turned over to his students as punishment. They tied him to a pole and stabbed him to death with their writing implements.
- Suffering from dashed hopes? Oprah’s film “Beloved” launched on Oct. 16, 1998, with much fanfare — and bombed. Beaten out for revenues that weekend by “Bride of Chucky,” the film spent only four weeks in theaters.
- Embarrassed by a recent failure? On Nov. 2, 1932, an Australian army major and two soldiers kicked off the “Great Emu War,” a campaign to control 20,000-plus emus in Perth. From the start, the flightless avian army proved to be superior warriors — particularly with their evasive tactics and apparent indestructibility. Hundreds of thousands of machine gun rounds were fired with relatively few emu casualties. After just a week or two, the military assault ended and the soldiers withdrew.
- Can’t catch a break? Spare a thought for Joan of Arc. The good news for her was that her death sentence was nullified when she was acquitted of heresy on July 7, 1456. The bad news? She had already been burned at the stake a quarter-century before.
BAD DAYS IN HISTORY will keep history buffs guessing which disastrous event Farquhar will cover next, while igniting new interest in bygone eras among the history-averse. From bad days in journalism (see April 21, June 30 or Oct. 29) to bad days in romance (see Jan. 6, July 29 or Aug. 21) to bad days in politics (Jan. 2 and 6 and 8 and 9 and . . . really, too many to list), readers will cringe and laugh their way through humankind’s most ridiculous and grim foibles and, hopefully, learn from the mistakes of our collective past.
About Michael Farquhar
Michael Farquhar, a former writer and editor at The Washington Post, is the best-selling author of numerous books, including the critically acclaimed “Behind the Palace Doors” and “Secret Lives of the Tsars,” as well as the popular Penguin “Treasury” series: “A Treasury of Royal Scandals,” “A Treasury of Great American Scandals,” “A Treasury of Deception” and “A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans.” He lives in Washington, D.C.
National Geographic Books
National Geographic Books creates and distributes print and digital works that inspire, entertain, teach and give readers access to a world of discovery — and possibility. Each year National Geographic publishes more than 150 new books for adults, families and children on a wide range of nonfiction subjects, from animals to travel, cartography to history, fun facts to moving stories. National Geographic books are available in 38 languages and more than 60 countries and in countless bookstores, mass-market outlets, schools, libraries and specialty retailers throughout the world.