Thursday, September 20, 2007

Greed, Hangings, Murder, Debauchery : History Doesn't Have To Be Boring

Ian Crofton has put together a fabulous book called History Without The Boring Bits. From what we've seen, it certainly lives up to its name.

Here's a few excerpts from the the book, as published in the UK Independent :


16 August – Henry III of England pardoned one Inetta de Balsham, who had been condemned to death for harbouring thieves. She had been hanged, but reportedly survived after three days swinging on the end of the rope.


Attacking the neighbouring Aztec city of Tlatelolco, the army of Axayacatl of Tenochtitlan was surprised to be met by an army of naked women, who sought to distract their enemies by spraying them with milk from their breasts. However, this ruse did not save Tlatelolco, which was sacked, and many of its people sacrificed.


A 12-year-old black boy called Clayton Bates lost his left leg after it was mangled by a conveyor belt in a cotton mill in his native South Carolina. Undeterred, "Peg Leg" Bates had, by the age of 15, become " the undisputed king of one-legged dancers" (according to the Tap Dance Hall of Fame), bringing new life to such steps as the Suzy Q by exploiting the contrast between the metallic tap of his right shoe and the wooden note of his peg leg. He was still pursuing a successful career in vaudeville in the 1960s, and died in 1998. "Life means do the best with what you've got," he used to say.


The Bournemouth Evening Echo carried the following story: "Mrs Irene Graham of Thorpe Avenue, Boscombe, delighted the audience with her reminiscence of the German prisoner of war who was sent each week to do her garden. He was repatriated at the end of 1945, she recalled. 'He'd always seemed a nice friendly chap, but when the crocuses came up in the middle of our lawn in February 1946, they spelt out Heil Hitler.'"

Go Here For More From History Without The Boring Bits

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