By Ekta R. Garg
June 29, 2016
Rated: Bordering on Bypass it / 2.5 stars
Curious to know how a Roman rental property listing from the first century reads? Want to know what Gandhi had to say about Hitler? Did concubines get any perks other than being concubines? History offers a variety of lessons as well as amusing anecdotes. Readers will find both in the trivia-filled but slightly scattered Strange History: Mysterious Artifacts, Macabre Legends, Boneheaded Blunders, and Mind-Blowing Facts.
The book flits from one subject to another. While this format allows for noncommittal reading, the lack of theme from section to section will encourage readers to put the book down time and again. The authors may have intended for the book to be used more in coffee-table format—something cute to be commented on and read from at cocktail parties. However, the book’s length may make readers question the value of reading it from start to finish in a few settings.
The writing itself definitely engages readers. Clearly the authors had a sense of humor both about the facts they present as well as language itself. The book also doesn’t waste time with each fact; the necessary information is imparted with a few lighthearted comments, and then the next section begins. Ironically it is this very setup that may intimidate readers.
If the information is coming in bite-sized pieces, the size of the entire meal may cause indigestion. The book contains way too many facts in a single work to be consumed in a timely fashion. In our current age of technology, the authors would have done better to release Strange History as a series. In fact, this kind of book almost begs for a cross-platform release, using the web, ebook, and hard copy formats in conjunction with one another to best promote these unusual facts from cultures and peoples across the globe.
Strange History may make more than one teacher grin, but it’s hard to imagine people outside of the education profession willing to read the entire thing start to finish without any long breaks. I recommend Strange History for readers who enjoy funny little tidbits of information. Other readers may choose to Borrow the book or possibly even bypass it completely.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)