From Publishers Weekly
In this biographical miscellany, British authors Lloyd and Mitchinson scan the lives of "three score and eight" historical figures ranging from the world famous (Marx, Freud, Alexander the Great) to the forgotten (Mary Seacole, Titus Oates, Archibald Belaney). The authors' aim with these capsule sketches is to provide material about their subjects that "their official biographers would have unquestionably left out." This means sex, of course, but also includes mental illness, hearsay, and just plain bad taste. As the average sketch runs about four pages, there is not much opportunity for depth. The authors' combat this through prurience, glib psychologizing, and by linking their subjects thematically: Leonardo da Vinci and Lord Byron are in the same section because they had "a bad start in life," while Genghis Khan and Robert Peary were "driven"; they also discuss the sexual proclivities of H.G. Wells and Catherine the Great. As the biographies are all crammed so closely together, they quickly begin to blur into one another.
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