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Guinness reviewed

By Ben-Peter Terpstra - posted Tuesday, 12 January 2010

After picking up my discounted copy at Kmart during the hysterical post-Christmas sales, I felt a welcome adrenalin rush. Tell me - how many books come with a warning?

“Attempting to break records or set new records can be dangerous,” I’m informed. “Appropriate advice should be taken first and all record attempts are undertaken at the participant’s risk.”

What’s so amazing about the Guinness World Records 2010 edition? For hair-raising facts the text is a screamer - and the book of the decade according to, well, the Guinness World Records 2010. (Fact: “124 million: copies sold, to date, of Guinness World Records - making it the world’s best-selling copyright book.”)


But what I respect is the marketing because - in my view - it breaks the world record for kitsch. Really. Who doesn’t appreciate a genuinely loud-green cover with silver Microgramma typeface, from the 1950s?

Inside there’s plenty of good news too:

Countess Elizabeth Báthory’s 399-year-old record still stands. She was the world’s most prolific murderess. Apparently, the Hungarian monster killed 600 virgins.

Lucia Xarate (1863-89) still holds her “lightest person” record in death. At 17, the emaciated ateleiotic dwarf weighed a pitiful 2.13kg (4.7lb), and Miranda Kerr can jealously cry if she wants to.

Conservatives - especially Southerners - will be happy to learn that, after taking inflation into account, 1939’s politically incorrect Gone with the Wind is still the top-grossing movie ever.

More importantly, pro-life Sarah Palin wins the most-searched-for person beating pro-abortion Barack Obama, for the top spot. As I type, her book sales are breaking new records.


I also congratulate Jay Sloot. The Australian’s tongue measured 7.9cm (3.1in), the widest on record.

“The greatest reliable age recorded for a dog is 29 years 5 months [1910-1939] for an Australian cattle-dog named Bluey, owned by Les Hall of Rochester, Victoria, Australia.” He was not a redhead.

Most hilariously, though, the American Chihuahua, Heaven Sent Brandy, wins the smallest living dog (by length) category: 15.2cm (6in). I imagine she’s a tyrannical housebound princess.

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First published in Quadrant Online on December 27, 2009.

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About the Author

Ben-Peter Terpstra has provided commentary for The Daily Caller (Washington D.C.), NewsReal Blog (Los Angeles), Quadrant (Sydney), and Menzies House (Adelaide).

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