Bookmom's Reviews > Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped

Napoleon's Privates by Tony Perrottet
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's review

really liked it

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 chapters are 2-4 pages in length, so you don't get buried in any one subject. Too bad school history books aren't told in this manner.

I don't think the book is intended to be read cover-to-cover in one sitting, but I found myself getting through over half the book before I started jumping around to look at specific topics I hadn't reached yet. I just know that some of what I've read will be brought up in future conversations.

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