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It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,700 ratings  ·  684 reviews
A history of heartbreak-replete with beheadings, uprisings, creepy sex dolls, and celebrity gossip-and its disastrously bad consequences throughout time

Spanning eras and cultures from ancient Rome to medieval England to 1950s Hollywood, Jennifer Wright's It Ended Badly guides you through the worst of the worst in historically bad breakups. In the throes of heartbreak,
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Jennifer Wright The overarching storyline is "boy, does Norman Mailer ever suck." No, not really. I'm inclined to think of it as a collection of independent essays. I…moreThe overarching storyline is "boy, does Norman Mailer ever suck." No, not really. I'm inclined to think of it as a collection of independent essays. If someone only liked reading about love affairs in the golden age of Hollywood, I wanted them to be able to pick it up and read the Elizabeth Taylor chapter without having to wade the one on Ancient Rome. Though I do make a lot of jokes about figures in prior chapters that I think make more sense if the book is read from beginning to end. There's no overarching storyline in a sense of it being pinned to my own life (as a memoir about using these tales to get over one of my own break-ups might be) but I think there are certain themes, like being wary of romanticizing the past, that are incorporated into each chapter. Also, this is not a dumb question at all! I love questions, and thank you for asking. (less)

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Jennifer Wright
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Full disclosure: I am biased because the author and myself are literally the same person.
Diane S ☔
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author made this such a fun and interesting way to learn a bit of history. Her sarcastic comments and amusing anecdotes made this a pure joy to read. She reminds me of my sophomore history teacher whose way of teaching made me fall forever in love with all things historical.

Of course many of these breakups were beyond nasty, none more so than the less than delightful, Henry the Eighth. Still there were some strange characters from many areas in Europe that were weirder than weird. Also learn
* A Reader Obsessed *
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: not-mm, audio, 2020
3.5 Stars

Love hurts and quite frankly, Wright hammers that message quite harshly here with snarky, humorous, and sobering commentary.

I’m a lover of happy endings, and you’re definitely not going to get that here. However, if you’re a history buff, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by the detailed accounts of infamous people and their oft bizarre, shockingly violent, sometimes horrifying, and mostly tragic conclusions.

Thankfully, this is not the norm as this does not apply obviously to all tho
Examining other people's relationships and the various dramas that result in their demise is always fascinating to read about. Combine that content with Wright's ability to present facts in a fun and tongue of cheek writing style, and you're onto a winner. This was entertaining, insightful and funny. I think my favourite chapter was about Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. And Richard Burton. I'm definitely in the camp that they were over dramatic, passionate soul mates who brou ...more
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
“No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.”—Bertrand Russell

How true! What fun would that be? And this book is fun and snarky. In a very 21st century way, the author discusses some of the most prominent romantic break-ups in history. It can be difficult to judge the past by their own standards, so let’s not, just for the duration of this little book. Get all judgey with 21st century values and giggle while you do it.

There are poets behaving badly (Lord Byron), Romans behaving viciously
Sonja Arlow
2 1/2 stars

I read this between other books for the past 2 months and was actually relieved when I was finally done. I have promised myself that this year I will try to be more honest with my ratings but I went back and forth between a 2 and 3 star the whole time I was reading.

Humour is sometimes a tricky thing to get right for everyone. What is funny for one person just sounds facetious to another. I knew from the start this was going to be a book that does not take a very academically rigorous
Jill Hutchinson
Jun 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
The title "It Ended Badly" could have described this book..... except it also started badly as well. It was much too cutesy for me.
☼Book her,   Danno☼

“If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody come sit next to me.”
― Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Alice would have loved this book. In fact she would have insisted that Jen sit next to her at dinner and then drop by the next day so they could continue their tear down session. Because Jen --Jennifer Wright = Jen -- cuts through all the historical 'glamour' and gets right down to calling a nasty breakup what it is; a chance to perfectly awful to one another.

As for me, I LOVED THIS BOOK. It
Stewart Tame
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The title pretty much says it all. This was a fun book to read. Wright has a nice, light touch with the material that works wonderfully well. Her sense of humor smooths out some of the rougher edges of these tales. One hopes that any reader in the midst of a bad breakup will console themselves with the thought that, at least they're not breaking up with Norman Mailer. Or Nero. Or Lucrecia Borgia. Or ... This is one of those books that's every bit as charming and entertaining as the title and cov ...more
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
Is Jennifer Wright becoming a new favorite author? YUP.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vine, arc, non-fiction, history
Snark snark snark snark snark... oh, and history and vengeful spurned lovers.

...and snark.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
You guys. This book had everything:

1. Historical facts and stories spanning hundreds of years
2. Weird facts about well-known (and not-so-much) historical figures
3. Humor (for serious, some serious laughs)
4. Unbiased commentary on what shitty people certain historical figures were (coughcoughNORMALMAILERcough)
5. Some real feels, for reals (Oscar Wilde SAD FACE)

I also enjoyed that it was basically a history lesson wrapped in gossip, which was AWESOME.

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It Ended Badly is a quick, inte
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I bought this book because I'd just finished the Imperial Radch series and I needed to read something that I could not possibly compare to it (the comparison was bound to be unfavorable; the Radch books are super great). This book fit the bill perfectly.

This is part of the subcategory of nonfiction that I think of as "funny history anecdotes." Sarah Vowell is obviously the queen of this particular niche, and if you like her work, you'll probably like this, too. Vowell is more funny history anec
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
2.5 stars rounded up for the level of classlessness that this entire reaches. It's so extreme that I can't help but admit that gossip level achievement attained. It is all of one piece in this tone, despite the 13 different chapters of despicable couples. Wright often makes comparisons to idol or celeb figures of today to illustrate social placements and other associative hierarchies. Or any duality in looks.

I could be wrong, but in some of the cases, I think she may have gotten some of the actu
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
And now I MUST read everything Norman Mailer

Audiobook #180
Brendan Monroe
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you liked Jennifer Wright's Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, you'll be sure to enjoy this one too. It's light, enjoyable, but also mildly educational. I never knew that Norman Mailer was such an ass, for example, or that Oskar Kokoschka was such an oddball. Ok, I probably could have guessed that an Austrian artist would have his eccentricities, but building a life-size sex doll based on an ex is likely a bit more eccentric than most.

The obvious examples o
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is no secret that my reading preferences tend towards fiction. If I am going to pick up a non-fiction book, it is likely a celebrity autobiography. Straight history (my partner's preferred genre) is BO-RING. And tedious. And takes me like a decade to get through.

Which is why It Ended Badly was so refreshing to me. Because the best way I can think of to describe it is History meets Bravo. Which feels distinctly in my wheelhouse.

I mean, where else can you read the following paragraph:
You know
Tracy Rowan
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On the strength of Get Well Soon, I went looking for Jennifer Wright's other books, and have not been disappointed.  It Ended Badly is characterized by the same dry, offhand, and often gruesome humor as her other work, and kept me chuckling, even at things which really shouldn't have been funny.

If you think you've had a bad break-up, read this book and be grateful that you got ghosted instead of kicked to death while pregnant (Nero and Poppea), or beheaded (Henry VIII and two of his wives), or h
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“It Ended Badly” is one of the perfect kinds of books. Not only do you get to learn something, but you also get to laugh. Educational Entertainment: What’s not to love about that?

There are thirteen true tales of love gone wrong that will have you grateful for the relationship you have, as well as the ones you no longer have. At least they didn’t end THAT way. “It Ended Badly” is also a perfect gift for a friend or a loved one who is suffering a recent heartbreak. By the end of the book they will
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This was a different kind of book for me! I don't generally read a lot of nonfiction, even though I'm always saying I want to read more.
But then I read this interview with Jennifer Wright, and I just knew I had to check it out. I love history and I love hearing about other people's drama. Plus the book starts with two quotes - one from Buddha and one from Taylor Swift (two of our greatest philosophers). I knew I was gonna like it.

As the title suggests, this book covers thirteen of the most terri
Mar 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: partials-dnf
I picked this up b/c I thought it looked like it would be a humorous, informative read. Wright's humor probably works well in magazines and newspapers where she has a day job as a columnist, but I didn't feel like the history of ancient Rome and her one-liners mixed well. Maybe the rest of the book was OK but I couldn't get past the first 14 pages....The premise of the book seemed a little far-fetched -- I guess trying to make modern readers feel better about their breakups b/c historical figure ...more
Jonathan Maas
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The funniest historian of the modern era plus a can't miss premise equals a great book

I first fell in love with Jennifer Wright's style with Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, which combined a Jon Stewart level of humor with real writing, and real history.

In short, she's not just some snarky blogger, she's a real historian who knows how and when to wring laughs out of difficult subjects.

I like to place my historians with a 'best' logline.

Stacy Schiff writes th
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-human-beings
Evolutionary biologists found that people experiencing heartbreak have brain scans that mirror those of cocaine addicts in withdrawal. We do not handle breakups well. Humans are unbelievably resilient creatures in the face of most of the world’s horrors. We are brave in battle, heroic in the face of disease, and really just terrific on the whole until someone breaks up with us. And then we absolutely implode.
захоплива книжка про катастрофічні фінали стосунків і про те, як деякі люди їх не дуже д
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun, interesting book that will definitely make you feel better about your worst break-up. Jennifer Wright's prose is sparkling, enthralling and informative, rendering you unable to put it down.
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A very funny collection of history essays on famous bad (to put it lightly) relationships and breakups from ancient Rome to Medieval Europe to golden age Hollywood. Just as entertaining and tongue in cheek while remaining quite informative as the wonderful Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them. I can't wait to read more of Wright's history books! ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I really liked this. I read Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright last month and loooooved it. So I wanted to pick up something else by her almost immediately. And I’m glad I picked this up in February, the month of love. It felt appropriate and it was tons of fun. Plus I learned something, which is what I always want with my nonfiction. Jennifer Wright is an author that I can see myself reading pretty much anything by in the future because I’ve now loved two books by her.

I’ll write a more thought o
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shockingly fantastic. Wright produced a wonderfully opinionated, extremely quick witted, and even more entertaining look at some of the worst breakups through the ages. For her research, Wright reached way back to the age of Emperor Nero. Her down to Earth retelling of his relations with his mother, his lovers, and his citizens will forever be seared into my brain. Mostly this is because I felt as if I were having drinks with Wright as she talked about ancient history using the most comic and re ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I always say I don't like history and I don't like reading non-fiction, and I think now that is a lie. What I don't like is the way it's generally presented to me, as a dry list of facts or a room full of academics talking about the impact of the industrial revolution on the modern family.


As far as history goes, I like to see the tawdry underside of it. The affairs, the murders, the questionable romances, the drunk uncles, the thieving politicians.

My sister wanted to go to one of the Newpor
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
To sum up my opinion on this book, let me say this: Jennifer Wright is your friend.

Just as valuable as the hardworking servicewomen who get brunch with you, listen to horror stories about Facebook stalking your ex again (seriously, I could never get him to meet my parents and suddenly he's spending the weekend at her sister's wedding?!), and holding your hair back as you vomit for the very same reasons; Jennifer Wright is being a good friend. She will look the other way as you order yet another
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was an AMAZINGLY fun read and I ended up reading parts of various chapters to my husband. That took a while because there were points where I was laughing too hard to breathe. All of my favorite awful relationships are here - Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Borgias, Oscar Wilde!! I understand some readers are going to be annoyed/irked/offended by such a chatty writing style being paired with history, but I personally loved it. Ms. Wright is apparently my soul sister when it comes to s ...more
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