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on 11 January 2008
This book is a collection of snippets of curious historical fact, legends, and anecdotes. the book is arranged in chronological order, starting with 75 million years ago when, according to Scinetologists, glactic tyrants people earth, then it skips to 4004 B.C. (the proposed date of the Creation of the earth, as worked out in the 17th century), then, rather disconcertingly, it goes straight to 616 B.C. and Tarquinus,King of Rome. That nothing in history was considered interesting between 4004 B.C. and 616 B.C. seems a touch dismissive of Mr Crofton, surely there must have been something in, say, 3000 years of Egyptian history that was considered worthy of notice? But apparently not.

A lot of the anecdotes are to do with sexual exploits, gruesome executions or other punishments, or strange happenings of various kinds. Many aren't really what you could call history, but are amusing all the same. Here is voltaire's opinion of 'Hamlet' for instance "It is a vulgar and preposterous drama, which would not be tolerated by the vilest populace of France, or Italy...One would imagine this piece to be the work of a drunken savage." There are some genuinely interesting facts. For example, I did not know that the Americans national motto 'Epluribus unum' (out of many, one) came from a poem atrributed to Virgil, which refers to a recipe involving cheese, garlic and herbs. Nor did I know that Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat-flap. compared to that, his discovery of gravity pales into insignificance.

This is an enjoyable book to dip into, but probably a bit much to read at one go. It's fun, but I would have liked it if Mr Crofton could have given us a few more interesting stories from ancient times, and I do feel he might have managed to come up with something to bridge the gap between the Creation and Tarquinus. Three and a half thousand years without anythign interesting at all happening is a rather long time.
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on 5 April 2008
The fact that articles in this book are arranged chronologically is the one thing historical about it. Many items are mere legend not serious history. Too many are pruriently sexual. But it is a fun book to dip in to. Perhaps a suitable volume for the smallest room in the house or a source book for the trivia quiz master.
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OK, I admit this, I have a set of books that I keep in the bathroom that are full of curious information, weird facts and to be honest things that will either make you laugh or just itch that scratch that for something completely useless to anyone but everyone finds fascinating.

So when this book by Ian landed, it was one of those that I added to my bathroom stock, after all, it’s the place where you can do a little light reading and then throw into the mix some weird fact when you want to either entertain you children or friends. Hidden within this title are a wealth of information that goes to show that stupidity is not just a modern thing and that it can be surprising as to how we’ve managed to live so long.

Add to this historical information that will fill in some gaps within your mind as well as giving you funny ways to remember the facts, all round could turn you into your quiz team history hero. Good fun.
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on 6 January 2015
An intriguing title and one it lives up to.

Many juicy characters, historical notes, curios and events are served up in these pages for the reader to enjoy, without having to wade through lengthy introductions or explanatory scene setting.

There are no boring bits in this book – it is interesting, fun and not too frivolous. Read it and enjoy travelling through time, without the baggage.
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on 25 January 2014
Forget the parroting of kings and queens, of "notable people", of tables of dates, of all the stuff that sent you to sleep in those double history periods at school. Here you can get into "real history", the things you need to know to relieve that dread you felt when faced with another essay! Now you can bring them to life with ease.
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on 12 November 2012
Not what I was expecting. This divides 'history' into years and come up with amusing or odd facts from that year. It won't add much to your historical knowledge but will make you giggle.
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on 17 November 2015
Great read, loads of information.
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on 21 November 2012
This book has been my go-to 'dipper' for a few months now. I've been reading it extremely slowly but that did absolutely nothing to distract me from the repetition of these so called history facts.

Being a history student I had to use some serious imagination to even consider some of them being true and the fact nothing was cited properly irked me towards the end. I know it's not meant to be a proper history text or 'boring' but I would of liked a bit more information on these so called facts.

Some of them were also gruesome and horrible. This book makes a joke out of some things that should be seriously left alone and respected.

For that reason, and the fact it was just plain boring at times, I couldn't give this any more than 2 stars, no matter how long it kept me somewhat entertained.
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on 29 January 2009
very useful and should be in all home libraries, in particular if there are children in the family
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on 10 July 2014
Good quick delivery
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