The Onion’s newest project has just hit the stores. It’s a hardcover book titled "Our Dumb World: The Onion’s Atlas of the Planet Earth." It’s hilarious.
I’ll admit a bias because my brother worked on the book as editorial manager and as one of the writers. But Newsweek loves it too; the book is so funny that even Newsweek’s glowing review made me laugh.
"Like any regular atlas, it profiles every country in the world and includes lots of facts, or "facts." Wales, the "land of consonant sorrow," is the birthplace of the "oldest, longest, least pronounceable language in the world. When spoken, it sounds like a beautiful song, but when written, it looks like the alphabet just vomited."
"Fearless, which is to say, they don’t care who they offend, the Onion’s cartographers and geographers also boldly tackle more controversial countries. In the section devoted to Iraq, for example, you learn that "Iraq-U.S. relations became strained in 1963 when Iraq leader Saddam Hussein assassinated John F. Kennedy." The Iraq map shows such sites as "family burning effigy to stay warm," "U.S. soldiers arguing over whose turn it is to wear armor" and "father threatening to turn this car bomb right around if kids don’t be quiet." The section on Iraqi history is titled, "From the Cradle to the Grave of Civilization." Equal opportunity offenders, this atlas’s authors do not spare their own country ("Tennessee: Like ‘Hee Haw’ but a State"). And no joke is too silly or too lame to merit inclusion. Taste, obviously, was never an issue."
My brother was in town a few weeks ago for my wedding, and he had a preview copy from the printer that I was able to flip through. My favorite line so far was "Chile: Preventing Argentina from enjoying the Pacific Ocean since 1818."
Go order a copy for yourself. Makes a great gift, too.