Thursday, October 1, 2015

500 Little-Known Facts about U.S. History - George W. Givens

Summary: The more we know about the past, the better we understand the present. Do you know? • That Pocahontas wasn’t the only daughter of Chief Powhatan to be courted by an English explorer? • How dead English soldiers took revenge on a tribe of Indians that massacred two thousand unarmed English prisoners? • The name of the woman patriot who rode five times as far as Paul Revere on the same kind of mission? • Which two former presidents died fifty years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence? • What Abraham Lincoln’s last words were just before he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater? • The name of the president who introduced sexual shenanigans into the White House long before Bill Clinton arrived? • That the military mounted dummy cannons, known as “Quaker guns,” to protect the White House during World War II? In this entertaining and enlightening book, you’ll learn little-known facts from America’s colorful past that you’ll never forget! From the author of 500 Little-Known Facts in Mormon History and 500 More Little-Known Facts in Mormon History/ (Summary from, image from Amazon.  I was given a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.)
Review: Trivial Pursuit was my favorite game growing up.  My mom and I would play for hours, sometimes much longer than she would have preferred.  I'm sure it's not a shocker that Jeopardy was my favorite show as well.  I love trivia.  I love the little nuggets and stories that lie in trivia, and I love that my mind holds onto those little nuggets so well.  My kids' names, I can't remember, but trivia?  Bring it.

George W. Givens has done an immaculate job assembling 500 of those amazing little pieces of trivia spanning from 1480-1950. I was expecting to know most of the stories, or at least have some recognition of some of them, and to my pleasant surprise, I had heard very few of the trivia Givens had included, and the majority of the treasures he has unearthed are truly delightful.  I've talked a few times about my non-reader husband -- I had to hide the book from him, just because of the little bits I would read him on the fly.  For example, did you know that General George Washington's temper was so terrifying that his secretaries were afraid of his cussing streaks? Or that the baby Sacajawea brought along her journey with Lewis and Clark grew up to be a guide for the Mormon Battalion?   I just love stuff like that!

This is a good book to read in chunks.  I tried to read it through like a novel, and some books are just better doled out in parcels than devoured in one go.

Rating: Four stars

For the sensitive reader:  There is mention of brutality between settlers and Native Americans in multiple instances and some mention of rape.

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