Cover image for Great misadventures : bad ideas that led to big disasters
Great misadventures : bad ideas that led to big disasters
Saari, Peggy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Detroit : U·X·L, [1999]

Physical Description:
4 volumes : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Explores over 100 historical, political, military, and social events where human error has led to disaster.
v. 1. Exploration and adventure -- v. 2. Science and technology -- v. 3. Military -- v. 4. Society.
Added Author:




Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D24 .S23 1999 V. 2 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
D24 .S23 1999 V. 3 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
D24 .S23 1999 V. 1 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
D24 .S23 1999 V. 4 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This four-volume set tells of adventures gone wrong, such as Alexander the Great's trek across the Gedrosia Desert that cost the lives of 100s of men, women and children and the fatal attempts to climb Mount Everest in 1996.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This resource presents 100 events from ancient to modern times that reflect "human error, greed, and poor judgment." Its goal is to "show that success can also involve failure, triumph can encompass defeat, and human beings are inspired by self-interest as often as they are motivated by selflessness." The set is divided into four themed volumes, made up of 25 events that are arranged chronologically. Each entry describes the event and discusses its historical background and significance. A few references are given for further reading. Sidebars within entries contain biographical profiles or highlight various related facts and issues. Black-and-white photographs, illustrations, and maps complement each entry. Each volume carries the same annotated table of contents, time line of important events, and cumulative index. Volume 1, Exploration and Adventure, covers events such as the Children's Crusade (1212), the Donner Party Tragedy (1846^-47), and the Mount Everest climbing disaster (1996). Volume 2, Science and Technology, looks at, among other events, the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the outbreak of mad cow disease in 1996. In volume 3, Military, one finds such events such as the fall of Athens (415 B.C. to 413 B.C.) and the Bay of Pigs Invasion (1961). Volume 4, Society, examines as examples of misadventure the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire (1911) and the nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system (1995). Most of the entries provide a fresh slant on events. For example, the entry on Christopher Columbus focuses on his settlement of the New World, poor administrative skills, cruelty to the native population, and his later years. Some events, such as the Tonya Harding^-related assault on Nancy Kerrigan, are not on par with most entries (e.g., the accident at Chernobyl, Watergate) in terms of historical importance. It is common for resources at this level to use parenthetical definitions for words and terms that might be unfamiliar. However, in this set the parenthetical definitions are intrusive and often unnecessary, for example, "Paris (the capital of France)"; "American Revolution (1775^-83; a movement by American colonists to gain independence from Britain)." Students in the targeted grades are expected to be familiar with many of these terms. There are a few problematic definitions. In the chapter on the Battle of Verdun, storm troopers are defined as "members of an elite, private Nazi army"; but the battle took place during World War I, and the Nazi army didn\qt come to power until the 1930s. Despite some problems, this resource is attractive both in terms of layout and price. Although its title might draw browsers, the set should receive a workout at report-writing time in middle, junior, and senior high schools. Teachers might find it a useful supplement to textbook materials. Recommended for school and public libraries.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9‘This drably produced but topically arresting browsers' confection gathers together "100 stories of human error, greed, and poor judgment," from the obliteration of the Athenian fleet in 413 B.C.E. to the mid-1997 death of chemist Karen Wetterhahn as a result of mercury poisoning. Saari chronicles many higher-profile debacles as well: Waterloo, Three Mile Island, the Children's Crusade, the Black Sox scandal, and so on. Arranged in subject volumes (Exploration and Adventure, Military, etc.), each entry includes a summation, a general narrative, a boxed section providing biographical or other details, one or more pallid black-and-white photographs, and a brief list of sources for further study. Though accuracy is sometimes sacrificed to sensationalism, the real flaws here have more to do with design than content: each volume contains the same 73 pages of front and back matter and the pages have a utilitarian look that's hopelessly at odds with the subject matter. Still, for well-endowed collections, this edges past The Associated Press Library of Disasters (Grolier, 1997) both for its historical and its topical scope.‘John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.