National Geographic’s ‘More Bad Days in History’ Will Make You Count Your Blessings [REVIEW]

Although he may have loathed to admit it, but not even Napoleon always had a good day. (Photo courtesy Canva)

It seems like all of us have had more than our fair share of bad days ever since the pandemic began in 2020. But consider yourself fortunate, you could be the guy who skipped over recruiting Michael Jordan to your basketball team. Or you could have gone to a resort for your health only to contract festering boils on your backside. (You won’t believe who this happened to!) Then again, you could have been the royal who drowned because of a law forbidding anyone ever touching you for any reason. (Insert eye roll emoji here.) Wonder where I’m getting all these delicious little factoids? You’ll find these and many more in Michael Farquhar’s new book, More Bad Days in History: The Delightfully Dismal Day-by-Day Saga of Ignominy, Idiocy, and Incompetence Continues.

National Geographic

The good folks at National Geographic know times are tough, and some of us may be wallowing in our misery, eager to shed masks, see our friends, travel, and frankly, just live life again. Until those things can happen and we truly achieve herd immunity from that nasty Carona fella, there is one sure fire way to make us count our blessings for everything we still have: laugh at someone else’s expense. Hey, it can always get worse!

As a follow up to his previous book, Bad Days in History, Michael Farquhar digs deep to shine a bright light on all the myriads of things that have gone wrong to folks over the years. He introduces us to the famous and the obscure, taking us from ancient civilizations to modern centers of power, and he puts all of their less-than-complimentary experiences on display like some sort of cruel museum exhibit guaranteed to make us feel better about ourselves.

While Disney’s account of John Smith and Pocahontas made you want to paint with all the colors of the wind, that’s only because you never knew about the horrific events that transpired in the Jamestown settlement on October 4, 1609, after Smith’s departure. I don’t want to be the one to tell it to you, but let’s just say that the account will give you food for thought. (You’ll understand the intended pun later.)

While Lucille Ball may have made us laugh until our sides ached on I Love Lucy, she apparently failed to have the same results while working on her 1968-1974 sitcom, Here’s Lucy. In fact, she seemed to lose her pleasing personality altogether as she dominated everyone on set, including some of the most recognized guest stars in Tinseltown. As a result, one of them wrote a scathing account about her antics in his journal on May 14, 1970. Once you read it, you will watch those old reruns with a whole other view of the famed comedienne.

While the Beach Boys became famous for their good vibrations, they didn’t always have the best taste when it came to making friends. Drummer Dennis Wilson became associated with a man who he thought was an up-and-coming songwriter and musician, a man he partied hard with. The group even went on to record one of his new pal’s tunes and introduced him to the recording industry elite. However, when the group entered the studio on September 11, 1968 and dared to change the lyrics to the song that was later released as “Never Learn Not to Love,” they also invoked the wrath of the songwriter. Who was he? I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the guy had a killer reputation!

More Bad Days in History is filled with hundreds of other tales about bad decisions, frightening tragedies, and other anecdotes which will either raise the hair on the back of your neck or prove great fodder for your next Zoom party. I love how it follows every day for a year, providing a story for each, from the vast annals of history. It will make you smarter, but I think in the long run it will also make you shrewder. I am a firm believer in learning from other people’s mistakes, and this is one book that will help you do that in spades. Written with the wry voice of a skilled journalist, More Bad Days in History is the perfect book to stock up on, both to enjoy yourself and to give as a gift, especially to the next one of your friends who bends your ear to complain about just how horrible his own day has been.

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Michael Farquhar
Michael Farquhar


Michael Farquhar, a former writer and editor at the Washington Post, is the bestselling author of numerous books, including the critically acclaimed Behind the Palace Doors and Secret Lives of the Tsars, as well as the popular Penguin Treasury series: A Treasury of Royal Scandals, A Treasury of Great American Scandals, A Treasury of Deception, and A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans.

He lives in Washington, D.C.

By Michael Farquhar
464 pp. National Geographic. $27.

TLC Book Tours Tour Host

Purchase More Bad Days in History direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, or Walmart.

More Bad Days in History is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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