The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody

So you think you know most of what there is to know about people like Nero and Cleopatra, Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun, Lady Godiva and Miles Standish? You say there’s nothing more to be written about Lucrezia Borgia? How wrong you are, for in these pages you’ll find Will Cuppy footloose in the footnotes of history. He transforms these luminaries into human beings, not as we knew them from history books, but as we would have known them Cuppy-wise: foolish, fallible, and very much our common ancestors.

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.

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William (Will) Cuppy was an American humorist and literary critic, known for his funny and satirical articles and books about nature and history.  He wrote for The New Yorker and other magazines, and his articles have been collected into books that are both amusing and factual.  

William Steig has been called the “King of Cartoons” for his prolific work at The New Yorker. He drew over 2,600 cartoons and 117 covers for the magazine during his nearly fifty-year career. His children’s books, which he began producing in his sixties, include the Caldecott Medal-winning Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and Shrek!, the basis for the animated film series.