Book Review

Non Campus Mentis

Anders Henriksson
Workman Publishing Co., 2001, 145 pages


T his book is a collection of malapropisms and mistakes made by college students on history exams, from `Athena the Hun' to the `Berlin Mall'. Reading this book, you will learn that: You will also learn new facts about history such as the little-known invasion of Gallipoli by the Aztecs in World War I. After the horrors of the war, things slowly returned to normal. As one student put it:
Nearly everybody breathed a sigh of relief when the Communists were able to restore chaos.
Sadly, WWI was not the `war to end all wars'. Trying to avert a second world war, British Prime Minister Chamberlain tried a policy of appeasement which ended in disaster. Chamberlain's policies were a failure. But as one student optimistically pointed out:
The policy of appeasement might have worked, however, if it was not for Hitler.
This book is much better than the series of Anguished English books by Richard Lederer, which is a collection of grammatical mistakes made by grade-school students. Some of these are amusing and a few are classics; for example
Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope.
More often, however, the mistakes are merely in the mind of the author twisting the meaning of what the students wrote or misreading their handwriting to get a laugh. Lederer's manipulative hand destroys the freshness that makes the mistakes funny. By contrast, Non Campus Mentis is untouched and extremely amusing, especially to anyone who has ever graded an exam.
March 12, 2002 Back