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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Book of the Dead: Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure

The Book of the Dead: Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure - John Lloyd, John Mitchinson

I'm sure I don't have to say the title of this one is what grabbed my attention at the bookstore, and the pull quote from Stephen Fry on the cover made me think it was going to have a decidedly humorous tone.  I was wrong about that, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the read.


The Book of the Dead (or this one, anyway) is a collection of short biographies of both the people you've heard of (Da Vinci, H.G. Wells, Byron, Genghis Khan) and the people you might not have heard of, but probably should have (Daniel Lambert, Dr. John Dee, Ann Lee).  


Some of the information in the biographies is likely not news to most people, but the authors did something different:  they organised the biographies by rather original criteria, like chapter 1: There's Nothing Like a Bad Start in Life, or chapter 4: Let's Do It (yes, that's meant to be a double entendre), or chapter 7: The Monkey Keepers.  These entertaining groupings allow the authors to come at each biography from a slightly different angle and offer readers information that isn't your run-of-mill biographical data while still keeping things short.


I learned a lot from each of these 3-4 page biographies (including things about Casanova I'll never be able to unlearn) and the authors kept the narrative interesting and engaging; the writing is never dry, even if it is rarely outright funny.


A good read, perfect for people who like to keep their history lessons bite-sized.