CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2000
OperationsThe horrible truth about illness, punishment, disaster and death, what can be said? Some will find this cartoon book rude and crude, and, consequently, they will not want it on the library shelves; however, some will see this book as ridiculous but harmless.
Who wouldn't want to know that William the Conqueror's stomach swelled and burst during his funeral causing a terrible stench? Isn't it important to know that mice used to live in the gigantic wigs of noble ladies in pre-revolutionary France? How about the fact that the Mongol warlord Tamerlane killed anyone who told him a joke that he had heard before (probably how the expression, "Have you heard the one about...?" originated)? There's a 127 pages of this high quality stuff, complete with tasteless juvenile caricatures.
However, as a youngster just beginning a life-long interest in history, the dark sort of dubious facts and improbable events this book explores enthralled me. They were the key that unlocked the mysterious door of human existence: the gorier the better; the more gruesome the more fascinating; the more ghoulish the more entertaining. What fun!
The stupidities and absurdities of human history should be examined and, for the good of psyches and souls, laughed at. This book serves a good purpose; however, when it goes on library shelves, some humorless prude will likely challenge it and try to have it censored.
Ian Stewart lives in Winnipeg and is a frequent contributor to CM and the book review pages of the Winnipeg Free Press.
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