What Were They Thinking?: Really Bad Ideas Throughout History (Humor)

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9780762726677: What Were They Thinking?: Really Bad Ideas Throughout History (Humor)
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What could Tommy Dorsey have been thinking in 1940 when he installed his orchestra in the monkey house of the Philadelphia Zoo to perform a concert for the apes?

Could artist Rudy Giacomo have been serious when he proposed building a 39 mile manicotti around Manhattan Island?

Was the Nobel Prize Committee on drugs when they conferred the 1949 prize in Medicine to the man who perfected the lobotomy?

Bad ideas are everywhere--they're the tile grout of history, the crabgrass of civilization, poking up through every crack in our thinking. According to government statistics, they outnumber good ideas six hundred to one.

What Were They Thinking is a compendium of some 400 harebrained schemes, fool notions, and misguided obsessions both grandiose and mundane. In it readers will uncover one man's effort to market a board game based on the Lebanese civil war...an Iowa State University professor's proposal to blow up the moon...and Senator Victor Biaka-Boda's ill-considered campaign trip to the Ivory Coast hinterlands. (Not only did he lose the election, his constituents ate him.) Within these pages, the aim has not been to probe the motives behind bad ideas, but simply to recount and, above all, revel in them.

The stories in What Were They Thinking? range from the horrific to the hilarious; many are both. But none are fanciful. Every item has been carefully researched from published, non-fiction sources such as newspapers, trade journals, magazines, government reports, research studies, corporate literature, and reference books. Says Felton, "To have been any less exacting in my insistence on accuracy would have been a terrible idea."

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From the Back Cover:

Could artist Rudy Giacomo have been serious when he proposed building a 39-mile manicotti around Manhattan Island? Was the Nobel Prize Committee on drugs when they conferred the prize in Medicine to the man who perfected the lobotomy? What could possibly have prompted Plennie Wingo to walk backwards from Santa Monica to Istanbul?

What Were They Thinking? is a compendium of history's most harebrained schemes, fool notions, useless products, and misguided obsessions. You'll learn the stories behind: an Iowa university professor's proposal to blow up the moon; Senator Victor Biaka-Boda's ill-fated campaign trip to the Ivory Coast hinterlands (not only did he lose the election, his constituents ate him); a U.S. intelligence plot to grow breasts on Hitler and make his mustache fall out; the escaped convict who blew his cover after a year on the lam by appearing as a contestant on The Dating Game and The Gong Show; the Ohio university that awarded Mike Tyson an honorary doctorate in humane letters; and many more examples of hopelessly muddled thinking.

About the Author:

Award-winning writer and editor Bruce Felton has written for numerous magazines, contributed to The People's Almanac and The Book of Lists, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Borneo, and placed 24,926th in the 1992 NYC Marathon. He is the author of four books, including Famous Americans You Never Knew Existed and One of a Kind: A Compendium of Unique People, Places, and Things. Always on the lookout for the absurd, Felton resides in his hometown of New York City.

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