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It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,236 ratings  ·  624 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, Em
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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.…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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3.79  · 
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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
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Wanda
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
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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
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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.
Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee

“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
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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
Jennie
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.

 photo everything_zpsmizfkvps.gif

It Ended Badly is a quick, interesting re
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thefourthvine
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
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Jeanette
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
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Silea
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, history, vine, non-fiction
Snark snark snark snark snark... oh, and history and vengeful spurned lovers.

...and snark.
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, read-dec-18
Is Jennifer Wright becoming a new favorite author? YUP.
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
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Janine
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
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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
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
And now I MUST read everything Norman Mailer

Audiobook #180
Maria
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
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Anna
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
Morris
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
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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
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verbava
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
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Sandra
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.
Angela
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!
Lyndsay
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
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Charlene
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
Madeleine
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
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Andrea
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
Meghan
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really loved It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright. I listened to it on audiobook, 2 thumbs up to the narrator.

I really like non-fiction history books about royalty and other famous people. My problem is that most of them are so heavy and dry that I get bored and give up after a few chapters. It Ended Badly was paced perfectly for me. I got some great information and didn't find myself bored.

Jennifer Wright's writing style was the best thing about this book, in my opinion. I felt like I was lis
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Meg - A Bookish Affair
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction, history
"It Ended Badly" shows that history can be endlessly amusing. This book is a collection of several stories from history of breakups between various famous people that ended very very badly. Told in a very funny way with lots of interjections that had me laughing out loud, this is the book that you get for the lovelorn history major in your life or anyone else that wants a good laugh while learning something too!

I'm a huge history buff so I don't necessarily mind dry historical reading books but
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Nikki
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's a fun, dishy romp through history. I was expecting a lot of fluff, and was happily surprised that each story was so well researched. The author clearly loves historical biographies! (And yes, I really want to be invited to one of her costumed historical drama viewing parties!)

It's written in a very informal conversational tone, which I enjoyed. Anyone who dislikes that sort of writing would probably just rather read the source materials listed in the bibliography
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