The Interesting Bits : The History You Might Have Missed, Paperback

The Interesting Bits : The History You Might Have Missed Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Did you give school history lessons your undivided attention?

Even if you did, youre probably none the wiser as to how exactly Henry II of France came to have a two-foot splinter in his head or why Alexandra of Bavaria believed she had swallowed a piano. Or where terms like bunkum, maverick, John Bull and taking the mickey come from; or how the Tsarina of Russia once saved a life with a comma; or why Robert Pate hit Queen Victoria on the head with a walking stick.

For some unknown reason the most interesting bits of history are kept out of lessons and away from syllabuses.

Relegated to historys footnotes, they lie buried beneath the dense text like a few golden nuggets in a mountain of granite.

Now The Interesting Bits rights this wrong; it is a veritable treasure trove of those surprising, eccentric, chaotic, baffling asides that dont fit neatly into historys official narrative.

They are historys little-known treasures the gems that generations of teachers have excised from lessons on the grounds that they might make history too much like well fun.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray General Publishing Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9781848541009



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I believe there are roughly three types of books: The book you can't bear to put down after a few pages; the book you can't bear to keep reading after a few pages and the book you can pick up or put down as the mood takes you. This is an intriguing combination of the first and third. It was easy to slip in and out of but somewhat compelling at the same time. Whilst I wasn't to read it for hours at a time, I did find myself picking it up whenever I had a spare few moments. It kept drawing me back.That's the beauty of the book for me. Waiting for a bus? Find out 'What was unusual about St Solange's head?'. A few quiet minutes before the kids get home? Find out 'What new name was given the river Pissa?'. It's a time-filler book for me. The title 'The Interesting Bits' is quite fitting because in the midst of mundane tasks (waiting the bath to fill, the pasta to boil etc) I can read a page or two and make it less tedious.You don't need to be a history buff. The book is well-written in that it doesn't take itself too seriously (what do you expect from one of the writers of 'QI') and yet appears to have been well researched. It provides some facts but not too many to put you to sleep. And it's a book that many people will enjoy. I can already think of three people who might enjoy a copy for Christmas.It has a good mix of 'bits', covering a wide range of time periods and locations.Its only downfall is the size. It isn't quite pocket sized and it took a bit of rearranging to get it into my handbag every day. But that said, it is no worse than many other books and to make it any smaller would mean cutting content or making the font tiny. Therefore, I can well forgive the size in favour of the rest of the design and the content.

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