OOPS!: The Worst Blunders of All Time (Hardcover)

OOPS!: The Worst Blunders of All Time By David P. Barash Cover Image
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Travel through history and around the world to learn about the greatest mistakes, blunders, and bloopers of all time!

Everyone makes mistakes and nearly everyone likes to know about them, especially when made by someone else! The Worst Blunders of All Time: Shocking Tales from Pandora's Box to Putin's Invasion presents some of our most notable blunders, from the silly to the consequential, from ancient history to current events. It offers the pleasure of Schadenfreude and of an easy-going reading experience, as well as—here and there—some learning opportunities. The reader will see when relatively big things have gone wrong and couldn’t be called back, such as iconic, mythical blunders like Pandora opening that troublesome box and Eve taking her ill-advised bite, to great historical oops such as Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, as well as some less monumental but nonetheless exemplary mistakes, such as the “Curse of the Bambino,” when the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth—at the time, a pitcher—to the New York Yankees. These and other exemplary oops are presented in a light-hearted way, with some exceptions being catastrophic, current catastrophes, such as Trump’s egregious mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Author David P. Barash will take readers from the tragic to the whimsical, with the latter represented by, for example, “Wrong Way Corrigan,” an early twentieth century aviator who thought he was flying nonstop from New York to California, but, confused by a heavy fog, ended up in Ireland. Pointing out these and other mistakes will be an exercise in Monday morning quarterbacking and 20-20 hindsight. Thus, The Worst Blunders of All Time shall “backstrapolate”: looking in the rear-view mirror at mistakes made by others.

The Worst Blunders of All Time is neither an advice book nor a series of cautionary tales. It’s an easy and accessible read, especially useful as therapy in these difficult times. However, its nonetheless accurate and informative, giving rise to some potentially useful take-home messages, keyed to its material. Ideally, we should all benefit from our own mistakes, making lemonade out of lemons, while also following Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You cannot live long enough to make them all yourself.” 

About the Author

David P. Barash is something of a Renaissance Man (a jack of all trades and a master of at least a few): an evolutionary biologist, also a peace and antinuclear activist, a very successful researcher, and, increasingly, a specialist in making complex facts and ideas accessible and engaging for the general reading public. He is a professor of psychology emeritus at the University of Washington and has received numerous grants and awards. He's a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has written several books and more than 250 peer-reviewed technical articles and op-eds in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Harvard Business Review, and many other venues. He has a regular blog at Psychology Today, and is a regular book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal. He has a wife, three children, seven grandchildren, three dogs, three cats, and a horse. He used to be a serious climber, but now he contents himself with hiking, biking, birding, and political activism. He was included in The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America because of his atheism, peace activism, and embrace of evolution.

Praise For…

"Entertaining and instructive—those who forget the blunders of history are doomed to repeat them, so you’re better off reading this book!"
Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Rationality

“Those who think the human race is doomed can take heart from David Barash’s latest book.  It proves we’re a hearty adaptive species, capable of surviving not only what nature throws our way, but even our own numerous—and often stupid—blunders.”
Rick Shenkman, author of Political Animals:  How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics
 “OOPS! is vintage Barash, a delightful romp through the Frankensteins and other unintended monstrosities of history and story. Maybe we’ll now have a word for Schadenfreude in English at last: ‘Barash-Bashed!’”
Mel Konner, author of The Tangled Wing, The Evolution of Childhood, Women After All, and other books
“Join David Barash on a guided tour of human blunders, both fictional and factual, from Adam and the apple to Putin’s ill-fated invasion of Ukraine. Hilarious and disturbing in turn, and superbly written to boot, OOPS! defies classification. Make no mistake, it’s a terrific read!”
David Livingstone Smith, author of Making Monsters: The Uncanny Power of Dehumanization
“In OOPS!, David Barash examines history and modern society to show how blunders, mistakes, errors, and blind hubris accounts for much of human life, including science, technology, medicine, military, politics, economics, business, and even sports. A delightful romp through the dumbest things people have ever done.”
Michael Shermer, Publisher Skeptic magazine, author of Conspiracy, The Moral Arc, Why People Believe Weird Things, and other books
“Readers of David Barash’s appealing, amusing, and alliterative assortment of human frailties, foibles, and foolishness will come away rewarded and reassured that human beings always have bumbled into blunders—large and little, hideous and hilarious, stupid and sagacious. Yes, there is a risk of falling into a horrid hole of hopelessness, but most readers will be laughing too hard to succumb. 
Carol Tavris, PhD, coauthor of Mistakes Were Made (but not by ME)
OOPS! is a terrific opportunity to live vicariously through and learn from others’ mistakes. OOPS! is not just a collection of often amusing histories of human stupidity (though it is that, too); it's a journey through informative cautionary tales, written by one of the funniest and most methodical and broad-thinking scientists I know.”
Erica Frank, MD, professor, University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, and founder of www.NextGenU.org
OOPS! ranges from the foundational tale of Adam and Eve through Stalin’s refusal to believe his own intelligence agents who predicted that Hitler was going to invade the Soviet Union. It’s both serious and laugh-out-loud funny, with something to offend everyone—not surprising because OOPS! is a full-throated paean to reason.” 
Susan Jacoby, author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism and The Age of American Unreason
OOPS! opens our doors of perception into an all-too-human house, full of boo-boos, blunders, and booby-traps of our own making. Once you step inside, spending some time with our species’ follies, hilarious and horrid, big and small, you can’t help feeling grateful that somehow there’s still a roof above your head, knowing fully well that you’ll be leaving your own muddy mark on civilization’s couch. Either way, next time my daughter exclaims ‘oopsie!’ for not emptying the dishwasher, I’ll just be happy that I’m no Daedalus, and she’s no Icarus.”
Uriel Abulof, professor of political science, Tel Aviv University, and author of The Mortality and Morality of Nations

"OOPS! sneaks up on you. It’s initially breezy entertainment, contemplating historical howlers of arrogance and incompetence (wow, someone thought it was clever to trade Babe Ruth to the Yankees). But Barash’s review of the blunders of generals, heads of states and politicians makes clear that hubristic stupidity, combined with indifference, has killed millions.  Whether chronicling the most ludicrous or the most appalling debacles, this is a great read."
Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University neuroscientist and author of Behave, among many other books

Product Details
ISBN: 9781510776357
ISBN-10: 1510776354
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication Date: August 15th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English