Histories of the Unexpected – Sam Willis and James Daybell: Unusual look at the past | Books | Entertainment


Take World War II, the authors pick 20 subjects including blood, King Arthur, rubble, suicide, mothers, puppets and Mozart. With the possible exception of blood, none of those topics is one you would necessarily associate with the 1939-1945 conflict. Yet Dr Willis and Professor Daybell find fascinating – you might say, unexpected – histories. Did you know that the Nazis were obsessed with kosher slaughter? They used the religious slaughter of animals to portray Jews as vicious animal haters.

Blood is obviously very important during conflicts and the Red Cross collected 13 million pints of blood 6.7 million volunteers.

The Nazis loved Mozart and after the Anschluss with the unification of Germany and Austria passed him off as a German, making a great propaganda tool.

In The Tudors there is a section on the face and the authors report on the Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I but rather ungallantly mention the artist flattered the queen (as it was wise to do so in those days) and that she had poor skin and wonky, yellow teeth.

Pick up all the books and you will find some odd, fascinating little known fact or something to amuse you.

A great Christmas gift for the history buff in your family although you might find it’s you who is reading them after Christmas Dinner and Boxing Day…

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