The author of the masterly volumes "Intellectuals", "Creators", and "Heroes" returns with a collection of biographical portraits of the greatest humorists and wits in history. In "Intellectuals", Paul Johnson offered a fascinating portrait of the minds that have shaped the modern world. In "Creators", he examined a host of outstanding and prolific creative spirits. And in "Heroes", he brought together a galaxy of commanding figures from the annals of Western history. Now Johnson turns his impressive intellect and piercing insight to the finest wits of the Western world. His is a selective survey across history and includes a diverse cast of legendary humorists who got a grand kick out of life, including Benjamin Franklin and the Marx Brothers, Charles Dickens and Damon Runyon, W.C. Fields and Samuel Johnson, William Hogarth and James Thurber. Including darkest humour, broad satire, bawdy wit, biting sarcasm, and more, this entertaining and erudite collection showcases some of our sharpest minds reflecting on the human condition's follies, pretensions, and foibles with that greatest of gifts: humour.