Jennifer Wright’s new book It Ended Badly shares some of the most dysfunctional breakups in history. We’re talking beheadings, prison, life-size dolls, and so much literary snark about thinly-veiled “fictional” characters. I was already hooked on the subject matter, but the narrative’s conversational tone really adds to the stories of historical heartbreak.
If you don’t love Henry VIII through reams of historical fiction, here’s a refresher on his famous six marriages. When the Pope refused to grant Henry’s request to divorce his first wife, Henry started his own religion (with himself as the head, obvs) and ignited the infamous chain of wives that went in the order of: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Not even the king who married three Catherines, two Annes, and a Jane is the worst offender in this book. Makes a little late-night scrolling of your ex’s Facebook seem downright mature and healthy!
These awful breakups don’t need embellishment. I was pretty familiar with the stories of Nero and Henry VIII going in, and I knew that Byron wasn’t exactly a good and faithful boyfriend, but many of these stories of ex-couples were new to me. Even the ones where I barely cared about the characters (Elizabeth Taylor isn’t great at marriage, pass it on) were lively, darkly funny, and dramatic, reminding readers that love makes complete idiots of us all.
|Recommended by Meg Stivison||Wednesday, September 9th, 2015||No Comments »|
I’m convinced that between A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen, we could end half of the Internet’s most heated, troll-ridden debates. It’s not about political agendas and perspectives, it’s about recognizing the facts behind the “truths.”
Lies My Teacher Told Me is an extremely dense read and probably not the easiest for the casual non-fiction reader, but it has the ability to turn anyone into a bona fide history buff. Personally, I needed the book both in print and in audio format to digest everything.
No matter what your educational background is, there will be a historical inaccuracy in your mental database Loewen will reveal to you with overwhelming effectiveness. He’ll strip down the lie, lay down the facts, then show you how the truth became twisted through subtle omissions, academic trends, inevitable biases and time distortion. The newest edition of the book also includes a chapter on 9/11 and the Iraq War. As the saying goes, “History always repeats itself.”
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Wednesday, May 6th, 2015||No Comments »|
When most people hear the name Cleopatra VII they think of Elizabeth Taylor thanks to the famous 1963 movie of the same title. But what did the real Cleopatra look like? Unfortunately, unless a lucky Egyptologist stumbles across Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony’s mummies and is able to identify them beyond a shadow of a doubt, no one will ever know for sure. However, author Stacy Schiff, who wrote Cleopatra: A Life, discussed what the legendary Queen probably looked like during her 2010 appearance on PBS’s Tavis Smiley Show.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, November 4th, 2014||No Comments »|
Rosalind Miles’ Tristan and Isolde trilogy is a great blend of Arthurian literature, mythology, and history. Unlike some other Arthurian novels that attempt to set the ancient characters firmly within the confines of history, Miles blurs the lines and weaves an entertaining love story from the blend of fact and fiction.
While the trilogy is primarily a re-telling of a famous tragic love story from the Arthurian legends, Miles makes sure her characters are well-rounded. The readers get to watch as Isolde goes from bratty princess to a strong-willed Queen while Tristan morphs from an immature boy desperate to prove himself to the brave knight that we all know and love.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, October 31st, 2014||No Comments »|
From the Irish sagas to Julius Caesar’s memoirs, much has been said of the Druids in ancient times. But who were they, really? Were they the scary-looking men of the forests who demanded human sacrifices for their Gods? Or were they simply wise men, dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge?
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, October 28th, 2014||No Comments »|
You probably already heard about the virtual autopsy researchers Hutan Ashrafian and Albert Zink performed on Tutankhamun, otherwise known as King Tut, that revealed a less than attractive face and “girlish” hips. However, their results revealed not only Tutankhamun’s physical characteristics, but also new clues as to why he passed away at such a young age.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, October 23rd, 2014||No Comments »|
Two years ago, Eluveitie released a music video for their song “A Rose For Epona,” which described in detail the utter devastation the Romans left on the Gaulish tribes.
The song is part of a concept album called Helvetios that allows listeners to travel back in time when the Romans shattered the Helvatians’s hopes for a victory at the battle of Bibracte. The music video follows a young Gaulish woman who accuses her Goddess Epona, who was the protector of horsemen and the cavalry, of allowing her people to be slaughtered by Julius Caesar and his army. While her people attempt to migrate to Gallia in an attempt to start a new life, the heroine of the song struggles to understand why her people suffered such an awful defeat and why her Goddess couldn’t protect the tribe against the invasion of the Romans.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, October 7th, 2014||No Comments »|