Napoleon’s Hemorrhoids: And Other Small Events That Changed History, by Phil Mason

Seven stars

Phil Mason introduces readers to some interesting tales in this collection of ‘what ifs’ and ‘did you know’ trivia in history. As the title of the book suggests, some things are quite random, but there is seemingly a great deal of curiosity surrounding these feats, accidents, and anomalies in history. Mason organises his book into some larger themes and proceeds to offer up facts—sometimes in a few sentences and at other times a page or two—that will both baffle and intrigue the reader. How things might have been different had Hitler stayed longer during a speech he delivered, or Napoleon been in better health the day of the Battle of Waterloo. Exploring sports, history, and business as well, Mason provides a seemingly endless set of examples of how the world might have changed on a whim. I am a great fan of alternate history, though I usually like longer tales or more meat to the explanations. While I suppose Mason wants to allow the reader to ponder on their own, it may have been fun to see some speculative narration when Mason presented some of the anecdotes in this piece. Full of eyebrow-raising stories, Mason lets the reader see how one small change in history could have completely changed the path taken and altered things significantly. With a number of substantive chapters, the reader can use what they learn here at their next dinner party or on a road trip to fill dead air. A fun read, though I won’t go do far as to offer a formal recommendation.

Kudos, Mr. Mason, for this interesting collection. I can see this is something you enjoyed preparing quite a bit.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: