I love the television show Qi where Stephen Fry (soon to be replaced by Sandi Toksvig) quizzes comedians and others about random facts and quite interesting topics. It’s a trove of obscure tidbits of information and rather fun.
It’s also spun off a couple of books and this is among the best. The show’s producer Lloyd and head of research Mitchinson team up to write about various notable historical figures. It’s a motley crew of the great and good along with the not so good and the weird.
They group them by themes which include those with troubled childhoods, weird food habits and monkey ownership. This means that seemingly disparate figures are grouped but there are odd little connections and similarities.
The writing is easy, engaging and amusing filled with fascinating stories and facts about those included. While some figures are well known (Florence Nightingale, Lord Byron, Tesla, Catherine the Great) there are less familiar names as well (Daniel Lambert, Mill Cutpurse) each is handled fairly and with detail, and there are surprising things to learn about them all, arming you with a new host of random facts.
They’re not in depth biographies but it’s a fun, quick way to get an introduction to these historical figures or expand on your knowledge of others. It makes the facts come alive and it’s a shame that more histories aren’t delivered in the same easy manner .
Verdict: Quick and easy, with plenty of insight and info this is an entertaining look at a mixed bag of people from the past. Great for dipping in and out of and quite educational. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.