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The Book of the Dead: Lives of the Justly…

The Book of the Dead: Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly…

by John Mitchinson, John Lloyd (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)

From the makers of the quiz show QI, a collection of biographies of famous people, more or less tied together by themed chapters, very much going for the gosh-wow trivia, none of it all that memorable to be honest. ( )
  nwhyte | Sep 16, 2017 |
This was interesting; well conceived; well researched; impeccably presented with a good balance of content and of facts vs interpretation vs linking sentences out of consideration for the reader. ( )
  BridgitDavis | Oct 17, 2016 |
I'm sure I don't have to say the title of this one is what grabbed my attention at the bookstore, and the pull quote from Stephen Fry on the cover made me think it was going to have a decidedly humorous tone. I was wrong about that, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the read.

The Book of the Dead (or this one, anyway) is a collection of short biographies of both the people you've heard of (Da Vinci, H.G. Wells, Byron, Genghis Khan) and the people you might not have heard of, but probably should have (Daniel Lambert, Dr. John Dee, Ann Lee).

Some of the information in the biographies is likely not news to most people, but the authors did something different: they organised the biographies by rather original criteria, like chapter 1: There's Nothing Like a Bad Start in Life, or chapter 4: Let's Do It (yes, that's meant to be a double entendre), or chapter 7: The Monkey Keepers. These entertaining groupings allow the authors to come at each biography from a slightly different angle and offer readers information that isn't your run-of-mill biographical data while still keeping things short.

I learned a lot from each of these 3-4 page biographies (including things about Casanova I'll never be able to unlearn) and the authors kept the narrative interesting and engaging; the writing is never dry, even if it is rarely outright funny.

A good read, perfect for people who like to keep their history lessons bite-sized. ( )
  murderbydeath | Oct 13, 2016 |
I believe it was the British thespian Mrs Patrick Campbell who was the first person to say "I don't care what they do as they don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses". I always used to think that the horses had a gall to complain about being frightened by the off-colour actions of others, in light of what they did with Empress Catherine of Russia. Now, through "The Book of the Dead", I find that the tale of Catherine and the horses is an urban myth and boy, am I embarrassed.

Aside from Catherine, "The Book of the Dead" also covers some of the other 90 billion or so people who have lived and died, including some of their lesser-known traits. If you're a fan of the "QI" tv series and related books, then I would suggest you will both chortle and learn a few new factoids, some of which may even not involve Empress Catherine, or horses. ( )
  MiaCulpa | May 17, 2016 |
An interesting book about a range of historical figures this wasn't as funny or fascinating as the previous QI books. Some of the biographies were a bit dry and slowed down the book.

Overall if you're a fan of the show or trivia books in general it's good for a read. ( )
  Shirezu | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mitchinson, JohnAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lloyd, JohnAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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"This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again." - Alexander McCall Smith
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Our early experiences shape our character and the way our lives unfold, and a poor start can, of course, blight a person's prospects forever.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571244904, Hardcover)

Following their Herculean - or is it Sisyphean? - efforts to save the living from ignorance, the two wittiest Johns in the English language turn their attention to the dead. As the authors themselves say, "The first thing that strikes you about the dead is just how many of them there are." Helpfully, Lloyd and Mitchinson have employed a simple - but ruthless - criterion for inclusion: The dead person has to be interesting. Here, then, is a dictionary of the dead, an encyclopedia of the embalmed. Ludicrous in scope, whimsical in its arrangement, this wildly entertaining tome presents pity and provocative biographies of the no-longer-living from the famous to the undeservedly and - until now - permanently obscure. Spades in hand, Lloyd and Mitchinson have dug up everything embarrassing, fascinating, and downright weird about their subjects' lives and added their own uniquely irreverent observations. Organized by capricious categories - such as dead people who died virgins, who kept pet monkeys, who lost limbs, whose corpses refused to stay put - the dearly departed, from the inventor of the stove to a cross-dressing, bear-baiting female gangster, finally receive the epitaphs they truly deserve. Discover: - Why Freud had a lifelong fear of trains - The one thing that really made Isaac Newton laugh - How Catherine the Great really died (no horse was involved) Much like the country doctor who cured smallpox (he's in here), Lloyd and Mitchinson have the perfect antidote for anyone out there dying of boredom. The Book of the Dead - like life itself - is hilarious, tragic, bizarre, and amazing. You may never pass a graveyard again without chuckling.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The QI Book of the Dead is a book about life. Around 90 billion people have existed since the human race began. From this huge number, the QI team selected 600 of the finest examples of our species and researched them in depth, distilling this immense banquet of life into an exquisite tasting menu of six-dozen crisp, racy mini-biographies, where the internationally and immortally famous rub shoulders with the undeservedly and (until now) permanently obscure. The object is to learn something about what it means to be alive and how we can make the most of the time we have. "The QI Book of the Dead" compares and contrasts the different ways individual human beings cope (or fail to cope) with the curves that the uncaring universe throws at us. Collected into themed chapters with thought-provoking titles such as 'There's Nothing Like a Bad Start in Life', 'Man Cannot Live by Bread Alone' and 'Is That All There Is?' here is a chance to share the secrets of the Dead, to celebrate their wisdom and to learn from their mistakes.… (more)

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