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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AS ECCENTRIC AS THE CHARACTERS IT DESCRIBES
If ever there was a case of art imitating life this must be it. Into over 650 pages the author has crammed a bewildering assortment of human flotsam and jetsam, relieving the alphabetical nature of the enterprise by a deliberately droll indexing system. It is the ideal bedside companion, which might equally well while away the tedium of visits to the smallest room, or...
Published on 19 Oct 2008 by Barry McCanna

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good fun!
This is not a serious book, it's 680-odd pages of entertaining and true tales. Tales of scoundrels, robbers, con men, blaggards, and of course everybody's favourite- eccentric toffs. It's not the sort of book you would read from cover to cover, more the kind of thing you would "dip into" for a 5- minute read. Having said that, a fair amount of research must have gone...
Published on 10 Jan 2012 by monkeyspank


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AS ECCENTRIC AS THE CHARACTERS IT DESCRIBES, 19 Oct 2008
By 
Barry McCanna (Normandy, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Hardcover)
If ever there was a case of art imitating life this must be it. Into over 650 pages the author has crammed a bewildering assortment of human flotsam and jetsam, relieving the alphabetical nature of the enterprise by a deliberately droll indexing system. It is the ideal bedside companion, which might equally well while away the tedium of visits to the smallest room, or provide an evening's entertainment for a broadminded dinner-party.

Older readers may recall William Donaldson's earlier incarnation as the perpetrator of that magnificent spoof the Henry Root Letters, and if this parade of practitioners of the darker side of human nature appeals then you'd do well to seek out that collection also.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The maximum fine is ten pounds. I fine you ten pounds.", 5 Jan 2006
By 
Mr. A. Pomeroy (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Hardcover)
This book is over 600 pages long and is not meant to be read from cover to cover. It is instead a book to dip into, and to quote to your friends, until they tell you to stop. It is a perfect read whilst on the toilet or going to bed. It is also very, very funny.
The cast divides into several basic types. There are wasted, philandering aristocrats; mid-20th century London gangsters; perpetually underachieving parliamentary candidates; people who were unusually kind to animals, and show-offs and con-men. And necromancers. The humour comes from the fact that most of these people were failures, deluded failures who, oblivious to their shortcomings and filled with self-belief, aimed high and fell far.
There is Frank Evans, "kitchen fitter and Britain's only qualified bullfighter" (one of the book's few success stories), the harmless Charles Waterton, "Catholic country squire and friend of the hedgehog", Joan Flower, "witch" and there are lots of frauds, imposters, pirates and spies. The passage of time means that most of these people are amusing, although with some of them it is hard to laugh because they were such obviously awful people. Some of the people in the book are still alive.
The only real problem with the book is that there isn't a topical index, and indeed the book is simply an ungrouped alphabetical list, which is perfect for finding out new things but you'll have a heck of a time recalling your favourite bits. I ended up sticking my fingers into several pages and using bits of paper. There are topical entries but not enough. I can't actually remember chap whose judgement I quote in the title of this review; he crashed the stage of an open-air production of A Midsummer Night's Dream as Adolf Hitler, having apparently got lost on the way to a fancy-dress party.
Oh, hang on, it was Grant Hinchcliff, a Lloyd's underwriter. I take back what I said about the lack of an index. This book is therefore perfect. There are entries for "kings who have died after being bitten by a monkey" and "predatory thin women"
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is the most unputdownable book ever!, 14 Feb 2004
This review is from: Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Hardcover)
Simply fabulous - pick it up and you're hooked. A wonderful insight into the lives of the infamous, from mass murderers to rock star hellraisers. But more than that - it's the wonderful cross-referencing which really grabs you as you flip through. For instance, I defy anyone not to turn immediately to an entry which is referenced as 'largest collection of bondage pornography in Western Europe - See Edinburgh, Philip Duke of'. See what I mean?
Perfect gift. If you can stand to give it away.
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4.0 out of 5 stars ... of the word 'eccentrics' probably kept the libel lawyers happy. Victims might have objected to being classed as ..., 18 Sep 2014
By 
K. Ellis (Devon) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Hardcover)
A cleverly titled book The inclusion of the word 'eccentrics' probably kept the libel lawyers happy. Victims might have objected to being classed as a 'rogue' or 'villain' but could always be convinced they had fallen into the 'eccentric' category.

A reference book to be dipped into at your leisure but will become a companion whenever reading a biography as it will provide a different view on the person concerned. Oddly there are some inclusions where the author has provided a kinder or less complete account of the person concerned but of course we each have our own opinions
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4.0 out of 5 stars Big book, 22 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Hardcover)
Well packaged and prompt delivery, Amazingly good condition for a second hand book (near perfect). The book itself is a bit like a dictionary laid out in order of surnames and cross references to events. I found it not one that I would read cover to cover but one I could dip into as the mood takes me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Book, 10 April 2013
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Good,interesting read, but missing out the likes of Patrick Moore, Spike Milligan,Syd Barrett and the infamous Leicestershire villian George Davenport.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Properly odd and endlessly entertaining, 30 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Hardcover)
I suppose you would have to describe this as a reference book, but it's really even less of a conventional reference book than Brewer's 'Phrase and Fable' Dictionary. You might find yourself looking up the odd person (no pun intended), but the real joy of this book is browsing or opening pages at random and reading about some amazing or terrifying character you have never come across before.

My personal favourite is the outrageously rich Georgian gentleman William Beckford, who travelled around Europe escorted by 24 musicians and once imported a flock of sheep because the view from his window in Portugal wasn't up to his standard. Back in England, he lavished his fortune building a vast Gothic house, but the 300 foot tower kept collapsing - perhaps because he insisted on keeping the builders paralytically drunk to encourage them to work longer hours.

As well as the entertainment value, William Donaldson throws in lots of illustrative asides and references other characters and books which may be of interest to the reader. It's a serendipitously entertaining ramble of a book, and every time I pick it up I seem to learn something.

A bit of a confession: I've taken to keeping mine in the bathroom to enjoy in those private moments.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading, 29 Nov 2012
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James C. Foreman (Hong Kong) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Hardcover)
Stuck indoors on a rainy day, or hating the sunshine: it doesn't matter, as long as you have the ironically-Bible-sized tome that is Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics you will be able to find happiness. It's wonderful for so many reasons: having an incredible number of cross-references to the point that it's like Donaldson was hellbent on recreating a less reliable Wikipedia in physical form, being populated by almost every rotter, bounder and cad in British history, and including stories where a man blows himself up by hitting a bomb with an umbrella, and another man ties his father to a pet bear, and somebody else does depraved things to a pigeon, and ....

No, it's too much. This is the kind of book that will suck away hours of your life if you let it. And you should.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great books of all time to give as a present., 30 Dec 2011
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S. Lancaster (England) - See all my reviews
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This compendium of mad, the bad and fabulously wacky people who have lived lives less ordinary than ours is one of the best presents I've ever had and I've been buying it for other people ever since. Beautifully, crisply, wittily written and perfect for browsing for 10 minutes or making a long railway journey pass painlessly. Brilliant.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny in parts, 4 April 2011
This review is from: Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (Hardcover)
A word of warning: Don't give this book to an eccentric with an ego - they might think they are in it or you are trying to tell them, they should be listed in it! The book is great because it captures the very british essence - our ability to produce mad & bonkers eccentric people. From the Lord of the manor who invites guests to dinner and then highway robs them on their way home, to the Gent, who insists on being carried around by his farmworkers in an open coffin. You couldn't make it up! It's a tome of a book, but worth persevering with for the best characters listed in it..
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Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics
Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics by William Donaldson (Hardcover - 26 Sep 2002)
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