I enjoyed reading this book a lot, not because bad things happened to other people but because I didn’t know about 90% of those events, such as poor Harry Truman’s mother-in-law who hated him moving in with him and her daughter into the White House. A good example to what the author puts it in the introduction as, “No matter how lousy your day has been, somewhere in time, someone else's was so much worse."
It is true that, in general, I find trivia entertaining, and since I like history, this book made my day stretching into a few days while I read it. I may even read it again, and I never read a book twice.
The stories that stand out for me are quite a few, such as what happened to astronomer Tycho Brahe, The Great Emu War, when the sperm whale exploded in Oregon, Tom Shales going after Kathie Lee, Gifford, what the hotel-owner Steve Winn did to a priceless Picasso, the misprint in a 1632 Bible that says, “thou shalt commit adultery, The Birth of a Nation, D. W. Griffith’s 1915 film celebrating KKK, Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima’s ritual suicide going bad, what happened to Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris who were with Lincoln in the presidential box when he was assassinated many years after, and many other anecdotes all told with a clear, impartial language.
The anecdotes in the book are in a specific order, from January to the end of December, however with no chronology as to the year but to the day; for example, what happened in the twentieth century followed by another event in the sixteenth century and vice versa if they were in two same or consecutive days of a certain month. This alone makes the pacing interesting and keeps the reader paying attention. The lesson gathered from all this is that bad luck, mayhem, and misfortune can happen any day and any time of any month, regardless of the year or century.
Then, it is true that a good part of the book is somewhat dark and even graphic, but it is because the contents agree with the title, and no reader can fault that arrangement.
- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ADULT; Reprint edition (18 May 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1426218079
- ISBN-13: 978-1426218071
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.1 x 21 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 499 g
- Customer Reviews: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)