Review: Strange History, by Bathroom Reader’s Institute

Published by: Portable Press

Publication Date: 14th June 2016

Format: Paperback

Price: $15.99

I.S.B.N.: 9781626865839

Blurb

From the 20th century to the Old West, from the Age of Enlightenment to the Dark Ages, from ancient cultures all the way back to the dawn of time,Strange History is overflowing with mysterious artifacts, macabre legends, kooky inventions, reality-challenged rulers, boneheaded blunders, and mind-blowing facts. Read about…

*The curse of Macbeth
*Stupid history: Hollywood style
*The secret LSD experiments of the 1960s
*In search of the lost “Cloud People” of Peru
*The Swedish queen who declared war on fleas
*Unearthing the past with the Outhouse Detectives
*The Apollo astronaut who swears he saw a UFO
*How to brew a batch of 5,000-year-old beer
*The brutal bloodbaths at Rome’s Coliseum
*Ghostly soup from ancient China
*The bathroom of the 1970s

And much, much more


My Review

Honestly, if this was supposed to be a humorous look at history I was only mildly amused. I only laughed a couple of times in the whole book. It’s a book that is part of a series covering strange facts. I can’t say I’d buy any of them if this one was an example. 

There were errors, most obviously the whole section on Easter, which aggravated me particularly because every year someone spouts the bunnies and Eostre nonsense (there are no surviving myths) claiming it’s all ancient mythology and then I have to hit them with a copy of Ecclesiastical History (The Venerable Bede) and again with Teutonic Mythology  (The Grimms), until they shut up. A book claiming to be about (the funny side of) history needs to be better than rehashing debunked rubbish. I may be being picky, but referring to the English and Welshmen who made up the armies of the Hundred Year’s War as ‘British’ is a misnomer; until about 150 years ago ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ referred to pre-Roman  people or the island specifically. The British didn’t fight the French during the Hundred Year’s War, the English did, and the Welsh were recruited for their bows. There was some pretty complex politics involved. 

And Joan of Arc heard voices because she was eating rye bread infected with ergot.
*bashes head against wall*

I’m sorry, I hadn’t realised how much this book irritated me. I like funny history books, the world can be a funny place amd history more so because the past is so alien, but funny, accurate history is preferred, at least by me.

Not recommended, although if you want a mildly amusing time when you defecate, this might do the job. I can think of better bog reading though.



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2 thoughts on “Review: Strange History, by Bathroom Reader’s Institute

  1. I remember an interview with John Oliver where he talked about how much fact checking he and his staff do for his show. He said something that I thought was a really good lesson for anyone who writes humor: if you get your facts wrong, the joke falls apart.

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