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Customer reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars

on 18 November 2008
The first Cummins book I read was "History's great untold stories". This is perhaps his finest as he shows the huge impact of moments you really are unlikely to know much about (the 19th century vicious guano wars amongst S. American nations being a good example). Here however Cummins uses his usual flair, wit and ability to sum up complex situations into 8 page sections on some of the most famous moments in history.

Of course the definition of "greatest hits" does depend on from whose culture you are assessing things and this is where I have my niggles. This is very much a Western view of the world. So while nobody would argue the inclusion of the crusades or the battle of Waterloo, as having a global impact, I don't believe the charge of the light brigade, Custer's last stand or indeed the assassination of President Kennedy are quite in the same bracket.

This is a shame as Cummins in other books has very eloquently gone beyond the West's history and does a particularly good job with the Mongols, but here they are largely ignored and I would say that Genghis Khan was a much bigger deal than General Custer.

I was wavering between giving this book 3 or 4 stars as it must be noted that there are too many typos. Sometimes it's poor grammar but I also noticed at least 2 incorrect dates (William the conqueror couldn't have put down rebellions in the 1170's as he died in 1080's, and Trotsky certainly wasn't murdered in Moscow but in Mexico- still I guess they both start with M!). This is just sloppy and it needs another proof read.

Each story is given the proper summary it deserves with pictures and amusing little asides when appropriate. It's a fun, light read if you're a history buff or a good introduction for those looking to enlarge their understanding of history.

Another example of intelligently written popular history from Cummins.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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on 14 October 2012
I have had this book since it was first published but only just got round to reading it. I can read no more and have now binned it. Further to the errors mentioned by a previous review I think you will find that Alan Shepard was not the first American to orbit the earth. His flight was sub-orbital.As the author lives in U.S.A. I would have thought he might at least have got the American facts correct if no others !!!!
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on 22 August 2010
While there may be the occasional typo (which I find in nearly every book I've ever read, by the way), and his editors deemed it important to put EXACT conversions of miles to kilometers which always gets a smile from us, it is clear that Joseph Cummins not only does his homework, but gets excited about it - and that excitement, wit and charm come through in every page. The books themselves are handsomely done, laid out in easy-to-read lengths with interesting side-notes and illustrations, along with maps. This is our 3rd Cummins history book, and it won't be our last! Cast Away and History's Great Untold Stories are also well worth their price!
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