Hi. We're the Smart Aleck Staff. We write text books. In a way. Our job is to make subjects interesting without resorting to sensationalism or lame "bringin' it down to your level" tricks.
We're serious about the subjects we cover, and we strive to make every book reliable, informative, and fascinating. But if we want to go off on a tangent about The Muppets, crack a few jokes about Billy Joel, or dole out homework assignments that could get you hurt, expelled, or arrested, there's nothing stopping us. No historical mustache is safe from the Smart Aleck Staff. We want people who are experts on a subject to enjoy our guides just as much as novices who use them as an entry point.
Out first book, The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History, was published by Random House in 2009 - it did pretty well, despite the fact that it was marketed as a young adult nonfiction book that isn't about "Your Changing Body," Jesus, or the SAT (which is not an actual genre). History teachers around the country - from middle school "social studies for teenage neanderthals" teachers to senior AP History teachers - recommend it to students.
Besides being funny, we decided to focus a lot of our "lesson" on info-literacy, a common theme of ours. For instance, how should you respond when someone says our founding fathers envisioned a small government with low taxes? The only reasonable response is that you have to take it on a founding father-by-founding father basis. They didn't agree on much back then, and they presumably wouldn't now, either. And who counts as a "founding father" and who doesn't, anyway? Our book wasn't going to be long enough be totally comprehensive, but we hoped we put readers in a good mind-set to see through the spin if they moved on to more in-depth books later. And if we could make fun of other books' attempts to "make history come alive" while we were at it, all the better.
We had such a good time with that book that we decided to do more of them.
Rather than just doing one big guide every three years for a big publisher, we decided to focus on the wild west that is e-publishing. There, we can do guides to anything we want - whether it's something marketable and academic, like a guide to Hamlet, something fun (like a guide to baseball history or naughty playground songs), or something totally random and inappropriate, like our guide to grave robbing.
Well, we like the stuff we write about, and we want you to like it, too, even if you just bought one of our guides hoping you could read it instead of the book and still pull off a B+. Unlike those study guides that have a distinct "don't bother reading the book" vibe, want you to want to read the whole thing - and like it.
We're the Smart Aleck Staff. We're here to help.
Here on our page, we'll post cool facts and trivia from our guides, downloadable cool stuff, videos, assignments that people have turned in, supplemental material, and more!