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Last Chance to Get 3 Free Issues of mental_floss When You Pre-Order Our New Book!

It's smarter than your old history teacher, funnier than the founding fathers and more American than Betty Crocker cradling an apple pie!

If you can't tell, we're really excited about our new book, The Mental Floss History of the United States: The (Almost) Complete and (Entirely) Entertaining Story of America. The cover is great! The contents are great! And we can't wait for you to get your hands on it!

In fact, we're so eager for you to check it out that we've convinced Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders and every other online retailer to partner with us on this super deal.

But Hurry!

All you have to do is pre-order the book at your favorite online bookstore before October 5th (TOMORROW!), and then copy and paste your e-receipt here and we'll send you a three issue subscription to mental_floss for free!

Want to add the free subscription to your current subscription? Not a problem. Want to give the free subscription away to a friend? Also not a problem! We've made everything really, really easy. All you have to do is order the book, and then click here.

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Of course, with a special this special, you may have some questions. We've tried to answer most of them below.

THE FAQs

Can I add the three free issues to my existing subscription?

Yes! We'll happily tack on three additional issues to your current subscription. Once you've bought the book, just click here for the deal.

Can I keep the book, but send the subscription to a friend, or vice versa?

Yes! We've made this really easy. Simply send the book wherever you'd like (keep it, or send it to someone else). Then, once you get your e-receipt, just copy and paste it into the form here. Then fill out the rest of the form to tell us whether you'd like to keep the free subscription for yourself, or want it to go somewhere else.

Does this free magazine deal apply only to U.S. subscriptions?

Yes. Unfortunately, we can only send the free subscriptions to addresses within the United States.

Can you really judge this book by its cover?

Yes! We put a heck of a lot of effort into making the cover interesting. But we've put even more effort on every page. Just skim this book and you'll learn all sorts of things your history teachers forgot to mention, from the Alabama town that refused to join up with the Rebels during the Civil War to the actual origins of baseball, to one of the dirtiest deals the CIA ever made (it's with the mafia!). But if you just want to stare at the cover, you can see that right here.

Does this deal really end on October 5th?

Sadly, yes. This whopper of a deal only applies to pre-orders.

Do you have any History of the United States content at mentalfloss.com for me to peruse?

Yes! Throughout September we'll be highlighting fascinating content from the book and creating fun quizzes to help you love history as much as we do. Just look for it here.

Is mental_floss magazine really that good?

Yes! Newsweek calls it "A smart (-alecky) read." The Washington Post calls it "delightfully eccentric and eclectic." And it's been praised everywhere from the LA Times to the Wall Street Journal. This year we've tackled The 50 Most Interesting Places in the Space-Time Continuum (including what it's like to look inside a black hole, inside a barrel with Houdini, and the Supreme Court's nuclear hide-out bunker), The United States of Amazing (wonderful tales of Amish baseball, an immigrant hot sauce maker and other stories that will make you proud to be an American), and The 10 Issue (the world's greatest 10 lists, from 10 Things You Didn't Know about Afghanistan to 10 Provocative Questions about Raising Chickens!) Plus, every issue is packed with fascinating science stories, incredible bios, evocative arts features, and a spinning the globe section that's chock full of lush photos and vivid travel stories. If you love to learn, this magazine's made for you.

And if I have other questions?

Yes, we figured you might! Just write us at threefreeissues@mentalfloss.com, and we'll get right back to you.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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iStock

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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