Prepare to be even more revolted, flabbergasted, appalled, and completely entertained by this incredible follow-up collection of absolutely true trivia from the author of 5 People Who Died During Sex. Nothing is too insane, too inane, or too sacred for Karl Shaw’s eclectic lists of the world’s very worst. DID YOU KNOW… …that according to recent estimates (2010) your body is worth between $10,000-$100,000 on today’s open market—from companies legitimately trading body parts from willing donors to recognized medical facilities? …that the great plague of Athens in 404, which lead to the defeat of the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War, was probably caused by contaminated cereals? …that Benjamin Franklin liked to sit stark naked in front of his open windows, calling the practice “taking an air bath”? …that in the last days of his life, the actor Steve McQueen lived on a diet largely comprised of boiled alligator skin and apricot pits, washed down with urine? From the Trade Paperback edition.
This compendious celebration of ineptitude includes some of history’s most spectacularly ill-conceived expeditions and entirely useless pursuits, and features tales of black comedy, insane foolhardiness, breathtaking stupidity and relentless perseverance in the face of inevitable defeat. It rejoices in men and women made of the Wrong Stuff: writers who believed in the power of words, but could never quite find the rights ones; artists and performers who indulged their creative impulse with a passion, if not a sense of the ridiculous, an eye for perspective or the ability to hold down a tune; scientists and businessmen who never quite managed to quit while they were ahead; and sportsmen who seemed to manage always to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Like Walter Oudney, one of three men chosen to find the source of the River Niger in Africa, who could not ride a horse, nor speak any foreign languages and who had never travelled more than 30 miles beyond his native Edinburgh; or the explorer-priest Michel Alexandre de Baize, who set off to explore the African continent from east to west equipped with 24 umbrellas, some fireworks, two suits of armor, and a portable organ; or the Scottish army which decided to invade England in 1349 – during the Black Death. Entries include: briefest career in dentistry; least successful bonding exercise; most futile attempt to find a lost tribe; most pointless lines of research by someone who should have known better; least successful celebrity endorsement; least convincing excuse for a war; worst poetic tribute to a root vegetable; least successful display of impartiality by a juror; Devon Loch – sporting metaphor for blowing un unblowable lead; least dignified exit from office by a French president; and least successful expedition by camel.
An uproarious, eye-opening history of Europe's notorious royal houses that leaves no throne unturned and will make you glad you live in a democracy. Do you want to know which queen has the unique distinction of being the only known royal kleptomaniac? Or which empress kept her dirty underwear under lock and key? Or which czar, upon discovering his wife's infidelity, had her lover decapitated and the head, pickled in a jar, placed at her bedside? Royally dishing on hundreds of years of dubious behavior, Royal Babylon chronicles the manifold appalling antics of Europe's famous families, behavior that rivals the characters in an Aaron Spelling television series. Here, then, are the insane kings of Spain, one of whom liked to wear sixteen pairs of gloves at one time; the psychopathic Prussian soverigns who included Frederick William and his 102-inch waist; sex-fixated French rulers such as Philip Duke D'Oreleans cavorting with more than a hundred mistresses; and, of course, the delightfully drunken and debauched Russian czars - Czar Paul, for example, who to make his soldiers goose-step without bending their legs had steel plates strapped to their knees. But whether Romanov or Windsor, Habsburg or Hanover, these extravagant lifestyles, financed as they were by the royals' badgered subjects, bred the most wonderfully offbeat and disturbingly unbelievable tales - and Karl Shaw has collected them all in this hysterically funny and compulsively readable book. Royal Babylon is history, but not as they teach it in school, and it underlines in side-splitting fashion Queen Victoria's famous warning that it is unwise to look too deeply into the royal houses of Europe.
Which king lost the crown jewels? Which queen was as wide as she was tall? And who was the king who died with a poker up his bum? A humorous take on British kings and queens through the ages. Packed with facts and information - focusing on all the funny bits!
This open access book is the culmination of many years of research on what happened to the bodies of executed criminals in the past. Focusing on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it looks at the consequences of the 1752 Murder Act. These criminal bodies had a crucial role in the history of medicine, and the history of crime, and great symbolic resonance in literature and popular culture. Starting with a consideration of the criminal corpse in the medieval and early modern periods, chapters go on to review the histories of criminal justice, of medical history and of gibbeting under the Murder Act, and ends with some discussion of the afterlives of the corpse, in literature, folklore and in contemporary medical ethics. Using sophisticated insights from cultural history, archaeology, literature, philosophy and ethics as well as medical and crime history, this book is a uniquely interdisciplinary take on a fascinating historical phenomenon.
Vajrayogini is a tantric goddess from the highest class of Buddhist tantras who manifests the ultimate development of wisdom and compassion. Her practice is prevalent today among practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. This ground-breaking book delves into the origins of Vajrayogini, charting her evolution in India and examining her roots in the Cakrasamvara tantra and in Indian tradition relating to siva. The focus of this work is the Guhyasamayasadhanamala, a collection of forty-six sadhanas, or practice texts. Written on palm leaves in Sanskrit and preserved since the twelfth century, this diverse collection, composed by various authors, reveals a multitude of forms of the goddess, each of which is described and illustrated here. One of the sadhanas, the Vajravarahi Sadhana by Umapatideva, depicts Vajrayogini at the center of a mandala of thirty-seven different goddesses, and is here presented in full translation alongside a Sanskrit edition. Elizabeth English provides extensive explanation and annotation of this representative text. Sixteen pages of stunning color plates not only enhance the study but bring the goddess to life.