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Their Last Suppers: Legends of History and Their Final Meals Hardcover – May 4, 2010
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About the Author
Andrew Caldwell has worked as a classical chef in Bermuda, Mexico, and the United States. He has managed a number of resorts and overseen the development of more than 40 restaurants around the globe. A keen historian, Caldwell has visited many of the sites in this book to ensure its accuracy. He resides in Orlando, Florida, and maintains an online presence at www.thehistorychef.net.
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Then most of the Last Suppers were actually the author's imagination of what they would have been, and not what they really were. Instead of doing some research and including subjects that the author had accurate data on, the author simply decided to opine on what that subject's last supper would have been... and on what their favorite foods were.
If I didn't feel I could believe the author's history of the subject, and I knew the author had no real idea of what the real last supper was that the subject had, why in the world would I believe the author knew what the favorite food was that the subject ate? I wouldn't.
This book was a great idea, but was written by someone who simply was too lazy to do some real research. JMO
The premise of this book is brilliant, being one part history book and one part cookbook. I think this idea is so clever, and particularly like that some of the more antiquated recipes are adapted for current preparation. Each chapter talks about a specific historical figure, gives a bit of backstory, then discusses the final meal before giving recipes from the menu. It sounds like a no fail book.
Unfortunately, I have some pretty serious problems with the book. Within the first two pages of the introduction, I found multiple typos and grammatical errors. Normally, I am not a stickler for these, and rarely do I mention them in reviews, but when you are talking recipes with precise measurements, typos in any section of the book make me very nervous. I would be livid if I bought pricey ingredients for a recipe, only to have it ruined by a typo. Finding them so early in the text make me have a critical eye, and as a result, I found a lot of flaw with both the historic and culinary aspects of the book.
Historically, the book seems to tout quite a few inaccuracies as truths, and contains no proof of research in the form of citations or footnotes. This is a huge error when writing any type of historical work. Even if the book is not attempting to be a strict, serious, scholarly historical work, if history is part of the selling point for the book, you should do historical research properly. Similarly, I found some of the recipes to be incomplete, instructionally, and generally poorly written/explained. I do not think I would feel comfortable attempting most of the recipes in this book.
The book is a bit of a let down. Wonderful idea, but poorly executed. With a bit better editing, and a considerable overhaul to the historical research, this book has the potential to be wonderful, appealing to historians and foodies alike.
I was just itching to write the review right then and there.
Then I started reading the book. The first chapter about Captain Edward was interesting, I love stories about the Titanic. I thought it was odd that I hadn't heard some of the information before and in reading the other reviews I now wonder how accurate it is.
After that it went down hill the only other chapter I enjoyed was about Princess Di and even that was dull. I was only able to get 1/2 way thru the book before I put it down and moved it to my cookbook collection.
My high school history books had more personality. And I'm not sure if I was zoning out because I was bored or if it was the actual writing but I found the book to be hard to follow. I am not a history buff, but I do enjoy a good story even if its based on history. I wasn't able to find a good story in this book.
The only reason I gave this book 3 stars is because of the receipes. There are quite a few I will not make (I am not found of ox tail, or lamb, or ostrich eggs) But there are quite a few I will be making. And then I can say, did you know so and so ate this as their last meal? Or did you know this was so and so's favorite meal.
If you are looking for an interesting cookbook this would be it (5 stars) If you are looking for an interesting historical read you will not find it here (1 star)