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Monsters: History's most evil men and women Paperback – 6 Aug 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (6 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847249515
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847249517
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

'Comprehensive, chilling and highly compelling' Daily Express. (Daily Express)

'Entertaining and informative. Full of offbeat, fascinating detail' Sunday Telegraph. (Sunday Telegraph)

'Compulsive reading' The Times. (The Times)

'Really catering to our appalled fascination with evil' Guardian. (Guardian)

From the Back Cover

Monsters is bestselling historian Simon Sebag Montefiore's selection of the most sinister characters and evil crimes of world history. Here are the cruel and murderous, the tyrannical and the treacherous - deranged emperors, blood-soaked conquerors, depraved cannibals, pitiless temptresses, ruthless inquisitors, revolutionary zealots. Monsters is a chronicle of human wickedness across the ages; the characters and crimes that everyone should know - and no one should forget.
Includes portraits of figures such as Jezebel, Caligula, Nero, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Vlad the Impaler, Ivan the Terrible, Lucrezia Borgia, Henry VIII, Jack the Ripper, Al Capone, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Pablo Escobar, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
To begin positively I'll point out that many of the brief biographies in this book did prompt me to further research the fascinating characters they described and gives a solid overview of evil in all its forms from serial killers and cult leaders to dictators and demagogues. This books best purpose is to spark an interest in these people which the reader can explore.
However, there is definitely reason to question some of the author's choice of monsters. I was surprised and disappointed that Lucrezia Borgia was listed as a monster, while her far more villainous (and therefore more interesting) father and brothers were given a mere mention. And call me a communist sympathiser, but why is Che Guevara listed as a 'Doc-tator' here, while notable ethnic cleansers like Muhammad and David ben Gurion are counted as heroes in the authors twin book?
Certain figures, such as Basil 'The Bulgar slayer' and Jezebel are included based on acts that have little to no evidence to prove their existence, while the crimes of others are very vaguely described.
Overall this book was certainly instrumental in my gaining interest in certain historical figures, but standing on its own it cannot be praised as much more than a vague compendium for morbid fascination.
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Format: Hardcover
I was pleased to observe that I'm not the only one who doesn't think much of this book. It really is as shallow as a book can be in my opinion. If it had been assembled (and that is the right word because written doesn't really apply) by a 15 year old, as a project, it might seem OK, but everything in it can be found on the internet, even the seemingly random illustrations. For example the illustration for Caligula is a picture of Malcolm McDowell in the dreadful film of the same name. That about summed it up for me. The layout is appalling, the text hurried at best and the overall effect is to undermine the rather better work this over-rated author has done in the past. Only done for money, and truly shabby.
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Format: Hardcover
The above book is beautifully produced but on reading the article on Richard III in the book I was disappointed to see a re-hash of the old John Rous/Thomas More/William Shakespeare version of history. I appreciate that this is `popular' history but to rely on the largely disproved traditional history of Richard III is very unimaginative. Whatever their opinion of Richard III, most historians now agree that the Tudor version of Richard III is highly biased and inaccurate with the aim to discredit Richard to bolster Henry Tudor's own weak claim to the throne. Reference to Richard's deformities, the accusation that Richard affected the murder of his brother, George and the assertion that Richard was loathed during his life time for the murder of his nephews are all products of this traditional version which have been refuted successfully. It would have been far more refreshing if Mr Montefiore had used his talent to write a more honest version of accounts but of course Richard would then not be included in this book. My disappointment was even more compounded by errors in the research and the exaggeration in this piece.

However, I was very pleased to see that Richard's loyalty to his brother, Edward IV was highlighted, along with his reputation as an "able general and skilled administrator".

In this book, Richard III is in the company of some really evil people and yet a contemporary bishop, Thomas Langton, writing in 1483 wrote: "He contents the people wherever he goes... for many a poor man that suffered wrong has been helped by him... In many great cities and towns he refused great sums of money... God has sent him to us for the good of us all." This is hardly the description of a monster.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Entertaining. I knew most of the monsters and was introduced to a few more. Henry VIII, for instance, was an evil man; but calling him a monster opens the door to thousands of other tyrants who don't even get a mention. In a scale of ten for monsters he might warrant 4 or 5. His two daughters must have shed as much blood.
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Format: Hardcover
Having purchased this book and read more than the previous "reviewer" I can say this book is excellent in bringing to life again (as I have read similar reports about most of the entries in other publications) some of the more unsavoury characters that ever graced the earth throughout history.
And for the benefit of a previous reviewer who doubted the existence of Sawney Bean and his cannibalistic family, there is more than ample evidence they were real - now read the book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading it at the moment but i can not see to many evils that was normal way of life yes Hitler was evil. but looked what Saddam Hussain he kept Iraq together. Now look what is happing. Bush Teflon Tony Blair should be in threr
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Format: Hardcover
It is incomprehensible that the same author wrote this book and Stalin, The Court of the Red Czar. The latter is thoroughly researched and beautifully written - Monsters is just a compendium of 'information' that any secondary school kid could have put together using copy and paste action from the quick google searh (information is often inaccurate, too, sadly). In conclusion - Montefiore, the credible author of his best selling books must be so embarrassed by this shameful attempt to cash in on his fame whilst he can - at least I hope he is so that he can write more of the good books to redeem himself. Advice to readers - don't buy this book!
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