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Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped
When Tony Perrottet heard that Napoleon's "baguette" had been stolen by his disgruntled doctor a few days after the Emperor's death, he rushed out to New Jersey. Why? Because that's where an eccentric American collector who had purchased Napoleon's member at a Parisian auction now kept the actual relic in an old suitcase under his bed. The story of Napoleon's privates triggered Perrottet's quest to research other such exotic sagas from history, to discover the actual evidence behind the most famous age-old mysteries: Did Churchill really send condoms of a surprising size to Stalin? Were champagne glasses really molded upon Marie Antoinette's breasts? What was JFK's real secret service? What were Casanova's best pickup lines? Napoleon's Privates is filled with offbeat, riotously entertaining anecdotes that are guaranteed to amaze, shock, and enliven any dinner party.
An easy and fun read, history fan or not...
By tredog1 "stickler for details"
- July 14, 2008
Great compilation of interesting tid bits, although some are more appealing than others. As a History major I enjoyed the historical accuracy vs. urban legend aspect of the essays. Most of them did make for great conversation with others and it was fun to throw around some facts about the more absurd, perverse or taboo pieces of world history.
Also I must note that I appreciate that the essays involving homosexual history have no tinge of judgment or repugnance hidden in them (as some other similar collections have). So thank you for that Perrottet.
Good use of references as well, you can tell the author did his research. And it prompted me to pick up some more reading material so I may further delve into some of the topics that Perrottet just touched upon briefly.
History was never so interesing in school
By C. Thilmany
- July 15, 2008
This book contains over sixty chapters devoted to historical sort of "urban legend" tales involving scandals, sex, body parts or other juicy tidbits that would get most people's attention if you heard it being discussed. Much of it is about famous people, but we also get topics devoted to ideas surrounding sex, such as how it was believed that masturbation caused a long list of physical ailments.
Some of the stories involve Napoleon, Cleopatra, Casanova, popes, Hitler, JFK and other earlier presidents, the practice of castrating young boys in the hopes they'd be famous singers, the birth of the stag movie, syphilis, etc, etc.
In the introduction the author claims to not want to trivialize history, but to bring it to full life. We get the general rumor as well as some actual facts that either debunk or support the tale with sources and further reading suggestions on the subject provided for each chapter, all told in a light-hearted, humorous manner. Most... read more
Sure. It's Good For A Laugh
By Arthur H. Roach "arturzinho"
- August 31, 2008
As one might guess, the prurient stories are the focus of the book; and since they had the author's full attention, they really are very funny. I kept the book by my bed, which was perfect because of the very short articles -- two or three read and I was in slumber land, probably with a small smile.
A couple things an editor should have caught: while his discussion on the accuracy and relevance of the permanent virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is right-on-target, he makes the common error of identifying The Immaculate Conception as the moment when Mary conceived Jesus. Wrong. The Immaculate Conception, in Catholic teaching, is the moment when Mary herself was conceived in her mother's womb, and "enjoyed in advance" the merits of the cross. When Gabriel appeared to Mary and she conceived Jesus is The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Hey -- sorry if that's Too Much Information.)
On the history of masturbation, he didn't get the sin of Onan exactly right. At the... read more
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