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Napoleon's Hemorrhoids: And Other Small Events That Changed History

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  220 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Hilarious, fascinating, and a roller coaster of dizzying, historical what-ifs, Napoleon’s Hemorrhoids is a potpourri for serious historians and casual history buffs. In one of Phil Mason’s many revelations, you’ll learn that Communist jets were two minutes away from opening fire on American planes during the Cuban missile crisis, when they had to turn back as they were run ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Skyhorse Publishing (first published January 1st 2008)
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I am just so exceedingly happy when I can put a book down and say "well, at least I didn't pay full price for it."

This is one of those books. Admittedly, I should have known it was kinda crappy before I bought it--a quick perusal would have said it. But it was the last days of Borders and my decision making was at a low ebb.

The whole book is full of "weird and crazy coincidences" and "startling facts." Some of these being just downright wrong.

For the record, Eleanor of Aquitaine did not leave L
Christian Eggers
Not exactly what I thought it was going to be--more an almanac of little stories than an in-depth treatise of some of history's close calls. I liked it for what it was, though. My chief complaint is that it is NOT well-referenced. Some of the facts sounded suspiciously like rumor; I would love to use some of these facts in discussions with students, but lacking rigorous referencing, I would always wonder if I was just perpetuating partial truths. Having said that, however, I also feel like this ...more
Amanda Hicks
felt like an overly lung buzzfeed video
Matthew Farr
Good bathroom read.
Fun, albeit pseudo-intellectual, account of chance events that changed the course of history. Not really a book but more a collection of anecdotes useful as conversational zingers.
This book was very straightforward. Chapters were lumped together based on categories, for instance, sports. That chapter would have random things that happened to sports people, sports arenas, how sports came about.... you get the idea.

There was really no rhyme or reason to the setup, it jumped all over the world and time. I liked that about it, but if you want linear, you probably won't appreciate it. Also, I feel like a few of his facts don't quite line up, but there are some things that are
I have often wondered about the course of history (or, for Pratchett fans, the Trousers of Time) and pivotal moments and events that may have redirected history if they had varied slightly. I am delighted to discover this book. I hope it lives up to my expectations.

This reads like a book of lists. It is not, in fact, a book of lists, but historical anecdotes that allow one to wonder "what if?" or "what if not?" about major events, and how they might have turned out qui
Alicia Fox
Too British

This is typical of the "interesting facts" genre, but definitely not the best such book I've read. As a non-Brit, I had no interest in the sections related to British sports (19th-century football/soccer) and television (1940s-1980s).
Sandra Strange
Really fascinating reading, narratives of historical events changed by small, seemingly insignificant happenings and characteristics. Anyone who enjoys history will enjoy this book. It's a good nonfiction for teens who have to read a book for a history class.
Thomas Hybki
A very wild "what-if" of life. Great little facts and tidbits from across history and from around the world (and some from space).

Great stuff. Would recommend it to anyone who likes to hear facts and small pieces of information from history.
I may be too harsh in rating this book so poorly. As an American I am unfamiliar with a great deal of the characters and events mentioned in the book. Apart from the entertaining story of Napoleon, there was very little I could identify. Like many novelty books that introduce curious and obscure historical snippets, this book follows the basic format of paragraph to one-page entries. It assumes the reader has cursory knowledge of the subject matter. I wonder if Brits have basic knowledge of Quee ...more
I wanted more narrative and longer stories. Instead it's a bunch of one paragraph stories. Reminds me of a joke book. It's a book but not really a book.
The opening words of the introduction run thus, "This is a book about tiny events. Tiny events that had big impacts. Some changed the world. Some changed individuals' lives and their contribution to the world. Some would have changed the world if matters had turned out just a little differently." An apt description of the book.

It's a good book to read snippets of at a time. It could also provide an alternate history writer with enough material for an entire writing career. *grin*

A fun and intere
Redondant. Presque identique au livre ''Les testicules de Jeanne d'Arc''
Jessie Omer
have you ever wondered why Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo, or why the during WWII the plan to kill Hitler know as Valerye failed. well with in Phil Masons book you will find the answers, Napoleon's Hemorrhoids is one of the best written book on history. Masons book holds page after page of unknown fact and is written in a way that is easy to read, understand and that gets to the point and does not waste time on unimportant information that is only used as an introduction to the fact. this ...more
Guy Robinson
An enjoyable read that reminded me of The Book of Heroic Failures and so was bound to maintain my loyalty and engage me.

It features two time when the United States of America nearly become a monarchy and veritable harvest of similar anecdotes. A fair number I already knew of, due to a thirst for such trivia, but often my reading was well rewarded.
Amanda Griggs
A very fun book that condenses a ton of quirky facts from history, politics, science, and more. It entertains, it teaches, it makes julienne fries!

It truly is the perfect kind of book for me. I'm mad about trivia and stupid little facts like that, so reading this book was like eating a box of chocolates- each bit was like a different chocolate for me to try.

Highly recommended for the trivia nuts and the curious alike!
Will Fleming
Entertaining as far is it goes, but not very thoroughly researched.

I encountered a number of popular historical myths that are, if not outright false, then at least not well supported by historical evidence. So it's fun, but take everything in it with a big grain of salt, because it certainly doesn't trouble itself to distinguish well documented anecdotes from historical hearsay, of which it contains plenty of both.
An interesting read! The first category was all politics, which was boring because a lot of it was British. The sports section was also boring, but that probably is because I'm not a big sports fanatic. The rest of it was fun to read; a lot of the events were small, and therefore can more across as being trivia facts, but it really didn't change the book any. If you like trivia books, then this book is for you!
Jan 27, 2012 April rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, nerd
Most of the situations are speculative rather than factual, in that THIS might have happened because of THAT seemingly-unrelated event, or that THIS could have been avoided if only THAT had happened like it was supposed to.

I'd rather have read about crazy coincidences, or comical historic events, but this was a little too close to conspiracy theory for me.

I had high hopes for this book but I was surprised by the events that ranged anywhere from extraordinary to uninteresting. Categorizing the chapters by subject rather than year was an interesting choice that may or may not appeal to all readers, but overall I feel like I learned a lot and was reminded how every action and event has shaped our world today.
Melinda Atwell
I enjoyed reading this book for the most part. This is a book that you don't have to read straight through, and can read it buffet style- picking and choosing what interests you. It was not what I expected- it was a collection of very short 'what-ifs' instead of more detailed accounts with the research to back it up. Not bad for an entertaining light read.
What a fascinating collection of history’s “might have beens” and “what ifs” and “almost didn’t happens.” I do think it’s better suited to quick dips here and there rather than trying to sit and read it all the way through. I found myself skipping through quite a few of the latter chapters until I found a name or event I recognized.
Tom Darrow
A collection of short stories about how trivial events changed history. This is what I would classify as being a good bathroom read. You can read a page or two, set it down for a while, and pick it up later without missing or forgetting much.

I gave it a "B for Brittish". Most of the stories are very British in focus.
I greatly enjoyed this book. It was also extremely up to date with several more recent discoveries (for example, the original creator of monopoly.) I read a lot of complaints in reviews about the lack of citations, which is a valid point. A fantastic book to have laying in the bathroom or in the car.
In theory this is a great idea for a book. In actuality it is very boring. There are only so many anecdotes one can read about the "could have beens" of history. This is actually a great book to keep in the bathroom where one is captive and needs to read a book that is easily put down :)
I brought it along to read when I went in for my sigmoidoscopy, which amused the nurses very much. (It was a coincidence, I swear....)

Not a book that one can read all in one go. I suspect that some of the facts are a bit off, and it's rather history lite.
R. Michael Litchfield
At best something to leave in the guest bath. No references, no attributions, just a bunch of historical anecdotes that may or may not be true the author managed to convince someone to publish. Hitting random pages in wikipedia is a better use of your time.
Definitely a read-in-the-bathroom book, not a take-time-out-of-your-day-to-read book. Very focused on British history, which made it difficult for this American to get through, and few of the stories themselves are incredibly fascinating or "by chance".
Sissi de la Côte
Livre parfait pour les toilettes!

Des petites histoires amusantes, mais aucune sources. On ne sait pas trop ce qui est vrai ou simplement une légende urbaine.

Quand même divertissant. À ne pas mettre en priorité; À mettre sur la bol.
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