Books: 'The History of the Millennium (So Far)'

Your college history professor was never as funny as humorist Dave Barry.

Not since Edward Gibbon's mammoth "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" has a historian tackled such a sweeping ... oh, who are we kidding? While professors are unlikely to cite it in their lectures, "Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far)," features a far higher chuckle-to-page quotient than Gibbon ever did.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist compiles a collection of his "Year in Review" news summaries since 2000. As a bonus, Barry compresses the first millennium into 35 pages – somehow without resorting to the teeny type favored by the Oxford English Dictionary. (Sample from the 1400s: "The plague killed about one-third of the total European population. It was not covered by HMOs.")

The summaries of a year's worth of news and lunacy (excepting 2001 – Barry wasn't up to joking about the weeks just after 9/11) all contain at least three chortles, four snickers, and one belly laugh, but 2000 emerges the clear winner. "George and Al's Big Chadventure" will have readers weeping with laughter. For those readers concerned that the millennium is off to a shaky start, Barry offers words of encouragement: "It's early. We still have more than 990 years to go ... In fact, I am optimistic about the future and I will tell you why: In 50 years, I plan to be dead. The rest of you are on your own." Grade: B+ – Yvonne Zipp

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