Actual rating: 3 1/2 stars
This book proves that there really is no new thing under the sun, and that the royalty and religious leaders of the current times have nothing on their historical counterparts when it comes to lewd, lascivious and downright cruel behavior.
I'd always known about the horrendous tortures that took place in the past, but even I managed to be shocked by just how hideous the level of cruelty really could be while reading this book.
The book features a series of short snippets concerning the more salacious behavior of some of history's more "colorful" rulers and monarchs going back as far as Tiberius and Caligula, with a chapter concerning misbehaving Popes thrown in for good measure.
Written in a sort of gossip column style, this book is meant to be light-hearted and humorous, and indeed it was...in spots. However, some of the stories in this book are quite heavy, don't be fooled by the overall tone of the book. Maybe it's because I'm a sensitive soul, but I found a few of the stories to be very sad, and in some cases, sickening. Although, this really didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book, strange as that sounds.
In fact, some of the stories sent me off to the internet to research further some of the people mentioned in the book that I'd not heard of, or didn't know much about.The section on the early Roman Emperors and the medieval Popes were particularly disturbing and really made me realize just how glad I am to be living in the time that I am.
The writer--as best as I can tell according to the stories I am familiar with--seems to be mostly on target as far as facts goes. I cannot attest to this with complete certainty, though.
My main gripe with this book is that it's not written in chronological order, but rather the stories are lumped together by theme. That can get confusing at times. Although, there are very well written family trees, appendixes, and a time line to help sort out who's who and who did what and when.
Overall, a very good book, and if you're looking for a little 'light' royal reading or some details you didn't learn from your history books, you may want to give this one a try.