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History: The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac    by Joshua Piven & et al order for
by Joshua Piven
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

The poet and philosopher, George Santayana, once said, 'Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.' That's exactly what the authors of The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac: History are trying to avoid. They've collected hundreds of examples of some of the most unfortunate events in history, from the Worst Medieval Baby Names to the most notable Fashion Emergencies of the 1700s.

In their Introduction, the authors tell us that 'the only way to be truly prepared for what you might have to deal with in the future is to be prepared for what people had to deal with in the past.' For example, if you suddenly found yourself in Cleopatra's shoes being poisoned by a deadly asp, would you know how to survive the ordeal? If you have this almanac with you and follow the seven steps outlined on page fifty, your chances of living through the dangerous snakebite are much better than they otherwise would have been.

Ah, but what if you find yourself being thrown to the lions as Romans were known to do? Rest assured, there are seven steps you can follow in this circumstance as well to give yourself the best possible chance of making it through alive. And although some of the suggestions may seem common sense - such as step number two, for example, which would have you ensure that you 'not provoke the lions' - others are much less obvious.

With this almanac by your side, you'll learn how to survive in a dungeon, treat bubonic plague, prove you're not a witch and even how to lead an army across a river without being noticed! From the ancient prehistorical world to the contemporary period, the authors of The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac: History have covered every major event mankind has had to contend with.

The book is organized by time period, which makes it easy to locate specific events. Creative illustrations - such as drawings of surgical instruments of Ancient Rome and animals that went extinct by the 1800's - abound. Tables comparing two historical personages (such as Moses and Spartacus, for example) to figure out Who Had It Worse? provide fascinating glimpses into the past.

The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac: History belongs on every history buff's bookshelf. Trivia fanatics and fans of the bizarre and outrageous will also enjoy this book, as will anyone with an interest in what came before and what events have led us to become who we are. This is a splendid addition to the Worst-Case Scenario series.

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