A witty, absurdist satire of the last 500 years, Alexandra Petri’s US History is the fake textbook you never knew you needed!
As a columnist for the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri has watched in real time as those who didn’t learn from history have been forced to repeat it. And repeat it. And repeat it. If we repeat history one more time, we’re going to fail! Maybe it’s time for a new textbook.
Alexandra Petri’s US History contains a lost (invented!) history of America. (A history for people disappointed that the only president whose weird sex letters we have is Warren G. Harding.) Petri’s "historical fan fiction" draws on real events and completely absurd fabrications to create a laugh-out-loud, irreverent takedown of our nation’s complicated past.
On Petri’s deranged timeline, John and Abigail Adams try sexting, the March sisters from Little Women are sixty feet tall, and Susan Sontag goes to summer camp. Nearly eighty short, hilarious pieces span centuries of American history and culture. Ayn Rand rewrites The Little Engine That Could. Nikola Tesla’s friends stage an intervention when he falls in love with a pigeon. The characters from Sesame Street invade Normandy. And Mark Twain—who famously said reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated—offers a detailed account of his undeath, in which he becomes a zombie.
This side-splitting work of historical humor shows why Alexandra Petri has been hailed as a "genius,"* a "national treasure,"† and "one of the funniest writers alive"‡.
*Olivia Nuzzi, Katha Pollitt
†Julia Ioffe, Katy Tur, John Scalzi, Chuck Wendig, Jamil Smith, and Susan Hennessey
Alexandra Petri is a humorist and columnist for the Washington Post and author of Alexandra Petri's US History and Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why, a Thurber Prize finalist. Her satire has also appeared in McSweeney’s and the New Yorker’s Daily Shouts and Murmurs. She lives in Washington, DC.
[B]rilliantly bananas.... Petri’s latest book demonstrates primarily two things: One, she is a genius; and two, no, she really is.... [S]atire at the highest level. …[A] godsend of a book.
— Amy Fusselman - Washington Post
Petri’s writing is consistently witty and erudite without the slightest hint of pretentiousness… If you can make the 19th-century debate over monetary policy funny, you’re clearly on to something.
— Matthew Cantor - The Guardian
Dazzling…Petri's seemingly effortless ability to reimagine American history in the most bizarre ways makes this one of the most entertaining books you'll read this year…It's a satirical salve at a time when we need humor more than ever.
— Amy Scribner - BookPage
Alexandra Petri’s marvelously inventive, wickedly funny, and extremely astute take on US history is exactly what we need as we ponder the future of the American Experiment and begin to prepare for the country’s 250th anniversary.
— Annette Gordon-Reed, New York Times best-selling author of On Juneteenth
I can safely say I will never look at Sesame Street, Emily Dickinson, or John and Abigail Adams’s marriage the same way again.
— Randall Munroe, New York Times best-selling author of What If? and What If? 2
Alexandra Petri’s deranged take on American history captures the spirit of the nation’s past so well, I’m afraid it’s going to be banned in Florida.
— Alexis Coe, New York Times best-selling author of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington
A charming, brisk galumph through history. I enjoyed it immensely, as I always do with Alexandra Petri’s ricochet reactions to the historical process.
— Daniel Lavery, author of Something That May Shock and Discredit You and Texts from Jane Eyre
Some [of Petri’s] selections are wry, some preposterous, some laugh-out-loud funny; all are inventive… This intriguing collection will definitely keep audiences entertained, whether they read through cover to cover or dip in for the occasional treat.
— Kathleen McBroom - Booklist (starred review)
Rooted in Petri's impressive knowledge of the American past, this is a trip.
— Publishers Weekly