2008: 4. The Great Pretenders

“Historical mysteries have a perpetual fascination.  We all like to read books presenting new theories about the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask, or of Jack the Ripper, in hope of discovering some new fact or a worthwhile new hypothesis to prove or disprove.”

The Great Pretenders: The True Stories behind Famous Historical Mysteries, Jan Bondeson (001.95B7118)

This was another Dewey book, and it was super fun read. I was a little nervous that it would be totally, totally terrible (since it was in the same category as like, Bigfoot books) but it was actually fascinating, and really well written (and, as it turns out, I am pretty certain that I have read another book by the author, Buried Alive, the story of the fear of being buried alive*).  The author is a professor at the University of Wales College of Medicine, and he takes a sort of scientific look at some famous crazy historical mysteries, examining the evidence, and coming to a hypothesis about them - sifting the rumors and evidence to show what has and has not been proven, and manages to do so without making it dry (not that it would be easy to make the story of the lost dauphin and the missing czar dry - that is naturally interesting, no?).  He manages to debunk the craziest theories, but still leave a sense of mystery at least about some of the stories, which is really, really fun.  I was sad to see the end of the stories and I’d read a sequel if he was so inclined - I enjoyed both the crazy historical mysteries, and the logical analysis, and I thought this was a super fun book, one that I would never have found on my own.  Loved it.


Recommended for: People who love history, and love historical rumors and mysteries - and also love figuring out what really happened...


*So, yeah, I like weird books.


Date/Place Completed: 1/9/07; D.C.

Categories: Non-Fiction; Dewey Decimal

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017