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Twisted History Hardcover – 2015
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
Pirates, mobsters, outlaws, sinners, saints, murderers, and martyrs come vividly and violently to life in this collection of 32 true tales from the darker side of history. Witness the brutal assassination of Julius Ceasar in the Roman senate house and watch as Bernie Madoff concocts the greatest scheme in financial history from the heart of Wall Street. Terrorize the high seas with the dread pirate Blackbeard and cower in a fog-bound Victorian London haunted by Jack the Ripper
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I liked the formatting of the book where each character is presented with several pages. It starts off with the name, a brief summary of the person underneath, a fact file with the basic summary and then it goes a bit into the details of each person. It explains what made that person particularly fitting for the section of the book, how they coped or what they were like. And there are plenty of pictures for those who don't just like a book full of words will enjoy that prelude.
Also what makes this book interesting is that the author does go into explaining either some more of the torture(s) and in the case of some of the more ambiguous ones what the real cause of death was. Gruesome and morbid for those into the subject.
I didn't like the fact that with Eichmann or Hitler they basically put more emphasis on the Jews instead of all the victim such as the first ones that were confined to hospitals or mental wards. Fortunately with Hitler other victims were touched upon a bit later on. Also the sizing of the font was a bit smaller than I am used to blind that I am....
So what gives the book an extra star for me is the fact that the author points out what most other people look over such as with Judas Iscariot. If Judas hadn't betrayed Christ then where would Christianity be now? It is the generous portrayal of more than one view that makes this book up for me.
Whilst Watson delivers a comprehensive snapshot of torturers, sinners, murderers and saints he also includes other relevant historical figures and the context of that period. For example, Adolf Hitler is an instantly recognisable villain, but Watson gives important details about how Hitler and his party weren’t simply the driving force behind persecution of Jewish people. Hitler also dragged an entire nation into a state of national disaster. In addition, this vignette charts Hitler’s brutality as beginning long before the Holocaust. Despite the grim material presented in Twisted History, Watson’s text is engaging and at times humorous. He always manages to have the last laugh at the villain. The illustrations are spectacular with the combination of primary sources, sketches and other artwork which resonate with the villain’s exploits, time and place.
Divided into chapters on 'Treachery & Torture,' 'Saints & Sinners' and 'Murder & Mayhem,' Watson provides write-ups on such 'fun people' like Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Jack the Ripper, Joan of Arc, Bernie Madoff, Judas Iscariot, Blackbeard, Richard III, Al Capone, Lee Harvey Oswald, Pierre Laval and Vlad the Impaler. Write-ups range from four to six page with accompanying b&w and color photographs, illustrations and artwork.
History buffs will enjoy TWISTED HISTORY. It provides the straight skinny on thirty-odd famous - and/or infamous - men and women. Recommended.