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Mental Floss Presents Forbidden Knowledge: A Wickedly Smart Guide to History's Naughtiest Bits (Mental Floss Presents)

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Think of anything bad, from art heists to Genghis Kahn, and it's likely to be included in this wickedly smart and humorous guide to the seedy underbelly of basically everything. The brainiac team at "mental_floss", creators of the hit magazine and last year's Condensed Knowledge, have scoured the darkest, dirtiest corners of history and the globe to gather this ultimate co Think of anything bad, from art heists to Genghis Kahn, and it's likely to be included in this wickedly smart and humorous guide to the seedy underbelly of basically everything. The brainiac team at "mental_floss", creators of the hit magazine and last year's Condensed Knowledge, have scoured the darkest, dirtiest corners of history and the globe to gather this ultimate collection of the bad stuff you're not supposed to know and you certainly never learned in school. Organized by theme, with chapters for each of the seven deadly sins, the book includes feuds, plagiarists, hoaxes, lies, schemes, scandals, evil dictators, mob bosses, acts of revenge, angry queens, cannibals and much more, all organized into bite-sized—albeit foul-tasting—lists (i.e."The Fascist Style Guide: Five Dictator Grooming Tips", “Four Biblical Girls Gone Wild" and “Three Delicious Animals We Charbroiled Into Extinction."). It's the perfect way to add some spice to a dull conversation and proves that learning can be not only easy, but exquisitely sinful.


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Think of anything bad, from art heists to Genghis Kahn, and it's likely to be included in this wickedly smart and humorous guide to the seedy underbelly of basically everything. The brainiac team at "mental_floss", creators of the hit magazine and last year's Condensed Knowledge, have scoured the darkest, dirtiest corners of history and the globe to gather this ultimate co Think of anything bad, from art heists to Genghis Kahn, and it's likely to be included in this wickedly smart and humorous guide to the seedy underbelly of basically everything. The brainiac team at "mental_floss", creators of the hit magazine and last year's Condensed Knowledge, have scoured the darkest, dirtiest corners of history and the globe to gather this ultimate collection of the bad stuff you're not supposed to know and you certainly never learned in school. Organized by theme, with chapters for each of the seven deadly sins, the book includes feuds, plagiarists, hoaxes, lies, schemes, scandals, evil dictators, mob bosses, acts of revenge, angry queens, cannibals and much more, all organized into bite-sized—albeit foul-tasting—lists (i.e."The Fascist Style Guide: Five Dictator Grooming Tips", “Four Biblical Girls Gone Wild" and “Three Delicious Animals We Charbroiled Into Extinction."). It's the perfect way to add some spice to a dull conversation and proves that learning can be not only easy, but exquisitely sinful.

30 review for Mental Floss Presents Forbidden Knowledge: A Wickedly Smart Guide to History's Naughtiest Bits (Mental Floss Presents)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Grayson

    This has some serious factual errors in it. I mean, really basic stuff -- I'm sorry, guys, but pepper was NOT used to mask the taste of spoiled food. Ugh. I gave up about 10% of the way through, during the incredibly inaccurate section on Christopher Columbus. This has some serious factual errors in it. I mean, really basic stuff -- I'm sorry, guys, but pepper was NOT used to mask the taste of spoiled food. Ugh. I gave up about 10% of the way through, during the incredibly inaccurate section on Christopher Columbus.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Basically candy for the trivia set. Much I had already read about, but still many good and interesting tidbits, though honestly I cherry picked my way through the volume, as some subjects simply didn't interest me all that much. More than a few things to both make you smile, and also disgust. I like Mental Floss online. A nice diversion from the regular reading fare. Basically candy for the trivia set. Much I had already read about, but still many good and interesting tidbits, though honestly I cherry picked my way through the volume, as some subjects simply didn't interest me all that much. More than a few things to both make you smile, and also disgust. I like Mental Floss online. A nice diversion from the regular reading fare.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Fontaine

    I found it funny...even if it was inaccurate. 🤣

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ray Savarda

    Looked like it would be a good bathroom book - small, short stories on various topics. After reading about 1/4 of it, found it not all that interesting, and moved on.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Lu

    As a sometimes reader of their magazine, figured I would be interested to pick this one up to learn some more random facts for my useless array of interesting info. Book began pretty blas�... dictators have weird mustaches and clothing, bands require weird demands for their contracts but not that witty or entertaining. Here's one I'll be sure to google... article published by Alan Sokal - "transgressing the boundaries: toward a transformative hermeneutics of quantum physics", which he wrote in o As a sometimes reader of their magazine, figured I would be interested to pick this one up to learn some more random facts for my useless array of interesting info. Book began pretty blas�... dictators have weird mustaches and clothing, bands require weird demands for their contracts but not that witty or entertaining. Here's one I'll be sure to google... article published by Alan Sokal - "transgressing the boundaries: toward a transformative hermeneutics of quantum physics", which he wrote in order to demonstrate the ease at which a fake and meaningless article could be published without peer review and picked up by scientific journals. In the chapter about sex, some great quotes... from Clark gable's wife - "god knows I love Clark, but he's the worst lay in town. If he had one inch less he'd be the queen of Hollywood." Wilt the Stilt - "If you look at it, you can say that I had so many women because I was such a bad lover, they never came back a second time." How did flirting go down during Victorian times? Evidently women had a complex system of signals using fans to communicate discreetly - touch right cheek = ok, left = not interested. And who knew that the founder of Kellog cereal was a masturbation expert? Evidently he created cornflakes with the thought of how to get people to beat it less through improved diet. I'll have to pick up the bible again... evidently in chapter 18 of the first book of Samuel, it's written how Saul asked for the foreskins of 100 philistines from David in order to grant permission to marry his daughter. Expecting that David would die trying, he instead came back with 200 foreskins, and wedding bells rang. What else did I learn about Russia? Evidently Rasputin had a 12" cock, and how he managed to remain in such control over Czar Nicolas was that Nick's wife was in love with him. And Catherine the great did not die of sex with a horse after all, but an aneurysm while shitting. Ok so there were far more chapters than just sex, but that's all I got.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Schnaucl

    It's an entertaining read, especially if you only have a few minutes here and there to do some reading. As with any book of this nature, if you know something about a subject before reading the book and they offer a different explanation you wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the information. I've read in other places that the Spanish Flu started in America, not China, and the reason it was called the Spanish Flu was because their newspapers openly acknowledged it and the devastation it wa It's an entertaining read, especially if you only have a few minutes here and there to do some reading. As with any book of this nature, if you know something about a subject before reading the book and they offer a different explanation you wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the information. I've read in other places that the Spanish Flu started in America, not China, and the reason it was called the Spanish Flu was because their newspapers openly acknowledged it and the devastation it was causing in contrast to other countries where it was kept quiet so as to not lower morale. Mental_floss says that it's called the Spanish Flu because it hit Spain particularly hard.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    You will be smarter after reading this book. Your IQ score probably won't change but you'll be able to hold your own on some very interesting conversations. Some of the facts contained here were surprising. Most were new to me, but some were not. In either case, The authors presented the facts in a new light and with humor. This is a great read for someone who does not have time to sit down and read a full book at length. Instead you can pick up a chapter here or there and set it down for a coupl You will be smarter after reading this book. Your IQ score probably won't change but you'll be able to hold your own on some very interesting conversations. Some of the facts contained here were surprising. Most were new to me, but some were not. In either case, The authors presented the facts in a new light and with humor. This is a great read for someone who does not have time to sit down and read a full book at length. Instead you can pick up a chapter here or there and set it down for a couple weeks. When you return, you don't need to remember where you left off - each chapter can stand alone. The book is equally as enjoyable as reading a Mental Floss magazine. Enjoy!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Strange

    This miscellany of historical topics covers R rated bits such as monarchs' sexual proclivities to national inferiority complexes and the wars they caused. The varied historical topics are organized according to the Medieval church's Seven Deadly Sins (Lust being one, thus the sexual stuff). It's all historical and tastefully presented, very informative and quite entertaining (but R rated just by its topics, but only in places, well labeled and easily skipped). This miscellany of historical topics covers R rated bits such as monarchs' sexual proclivities to national inferiority complexes and the wars they caused. The varied historical topics are organized according to the Medieval church's Seven Deadly Sins (Lust being one, thus the sexual stuff). It's all historical and tastefully presented, very informative and quite entertaining (but R rated just by its topics, but only in places, well labeled and easily skipped).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Fun easy little 'trivia' book to read. Sound facts, though there is no citations (but mental_floss is a pretty good accredited source, so there might be only small trivial issues), it's easy to read, and light, basically a bathroom book. Broken down into the 7 deadly sins, it ranges the gambit from tiny and trivial interesting facts to large facts that we don't know (but probably should) to things like you know X but it's really Y. Overall fun book. Fun easy little 'trivia' book to read. Sound facts, though there is no citations (but mental_floss is a pretty good accredited source, so there might be only small trivial issues), it's easy to read, and light, basically a bathroom book. Broken down into the 7 deadly sins, it ranges the gambit from tiny and trivial interesting facts to large facts that we don't know (but probably should) to things like you know X but it's really Y. Overall fun book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    Another fun book from the folks at Mental Floss that want you to have fun while learning "new stuff". This time they take the theme of the Seven Deadly Sins and fill you in on the secrets of the world and people you may or may not have heard of. History like this ignores the importance of dates and dead people, but this is Mozart once you have mastered the scales. Have fun. Another fun book from the folks at Mental Floss that want you to have fun while learning "new stuff". This time they take the theme of the Seven Deadly Sins and fill you in on the secrets of the world and people you may or may not have heard of. History like this ignores the importance of dates and dead people, but this is Mozart once you have mastered the scales. Have fun.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    This is an awesome book for trivia junkies who love to pull out shockers at opportune times. It's split up in sections by topic (Lust, Greed, etc.), and each little portion is only 3-6 snippets. It's PERFECT for pre-slumber reading, where you want to get a little bit in, but prefer something not too heavy, that your half-asleep brain will be able to digest. I recommend! This is an awesome book for trivia junkies who love to pull out shockers at opportune times. It's split up in sections by topic (Lust, Greed, etc.), and each little portion is only 3-6 snippets. It's PERFECT for pre-slumber reading, where you want to get a little bit in, but prefer something not too heavy, that your half-asleep brain will be able to digest. I recommend!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Bite sized lists of historical information are presented within the confines of the seven deadly sins. A fun trivia book, even if the connections of the lists to the sins were sometimes extremely tenuous. I read this on the Kindle, so I'm not sure if the oddly inserted sidebars are a fault of the book or the conversion to digital format. Bite sized lists of historical information are presented within the confines of the seven deadly sins. A fun trivia book, even if the connections of the lists to the sins were sometimes extremely tenuous. I read this on the Kindle, so I'm not sure if the oddly inserted sidebars are a fault of the book or the conversion to digital format.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pewterbreath

    This is one of those random facts books that is fun to kinda doodle through in the bathroom or while waiting for a bus or something. I don't think it's particularly significant, in the sense that you don't really LEARN anything, but it's an entertaining little fillip--and actually list books are quite addictive. This is one of those random facts books that is fun to kinda doodle through in the bathroom or while waiting for a bus or something. I don't think it's particularly significant, in the sense that you don't really LEARN anything, but it's an entertaining little fillip--and actually list books are quite addictive.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Albert

    This is a fun, lighter-than-air compendium of historical anecdotes, told in Mental Floss's signature pun-filled, mildly-snarky style. I'm a sucker for lists, especially lists of short, summary-style tidbits about bizarre stuff from history. So naturally, I enjoyed this immensely. This is a fun, lighter-than-air compendium of historical anecdotes, told in Mental Floss's signature pun-filled, mildly-snarky style. I'm a sucker for lists, especially lists of short, summary-style tidbits about bizarre stuff from history. So naturally, I enjoyed this immensely.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I love trivia and it's my secret dream to go on Jeopardy someday, so this book was fascinating to me. However, I don't think that I would refer to all of these entries as "wicked." In fact, there were many where I didn't see the link to the chapter heading. I love trivia and it's my secret dream to go on Jeopardy someday, so this book was fascinating to me. However, I don't think that I would refer to all of these entries as "wicked." In fact, there were many where I didn't see the link to the chapter heading.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Answerblip

    This is a really funny book that has alot of great information and trivia questions. The cover of the book made me notice it, but whats inside got me hooked. I use this for parties and fun events to create games and fun times. Answer Blip Trivia Team http://www.answerblip.com/ This is a really funny book that has alot of great information and trivia questions. The cover of the book made me notice it, but whats inside got me hooked. I use this for parties and fun events to create games and fun times. Answer Blip Trivia Team http://www.answerblip.com/

  17. 4 out of 5

    Spazfungus

    Unfortunately the dedication "Mental Floss would like to thank the Devil for making a book about sins possible....and Voledemort. It's your inspiration that truly fills this book" was the wittiest most well written part of this book. Look for intelligent historical satire elsewhere Unfortunately the dedication "Mental Floss would like to thank the Devil for making a book about sins possible....and Voledemort. It's your inspiration that truly fills this book" was the wittiest most well written part of this book. Look for intelligent historical satire elsewhere

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Blurbs of history. Broken up by the Seven Deadly Sins. Interesting, but only a few paragraphs are written about each topic. Glossed over some of the topics. Definitely interesting for someone who wants "just the facts." Definitely loaded with trivia. Liked the Pride and Sloth sections best. Blurbs of history. Broken up by the Seven Deadly Sins. Interesting, but only a few paragraphs are written about each topic. Glossed over some of the topics. Definitely interesting for someone who wants "just the facts." Definitely loaded with trivia. Liked the Pride and Sloth sections best.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rstarin74

    Woo! This one is strictly for trivia junkies.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ash Crowe

    The format of the book is more than a little repetitive but it still contains many interesting bits of trivia.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    pass along Mom Mar 2008

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    An excellent book for what it is. Short (three to four paragraph) entires about history, science, and pop culture.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    Mental_Floss is awesome and I wonder how I didn't know about it until a year or so ago. A lot of these lists have appeared on the website (and kept me entertained over many a slow work day). Mental_Floss is awesome and I wonder how I didn't know about it until a year or so ago. A lot of these lists have appeared on the website (and kept me entertained over many a slow work day).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    trivia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Sokol

    A lot of fun trivia in here!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael Wilson

    I live books of list and random trivia. This was agreat book to relax with the few minutes before I go to sleep at night.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Loved it, except for the "Lust" section. Skip that if you're going to check this book out. Loved it, except for the "Lust" section. Skip that if you're going to check this book out.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    Entertaining read, however I love their blog more than the books.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    Mental Floss books are always fun, sarcastic and irreverent and yet informative. I like the tidbits of information style, but it's probably best for reading smaller stretches at a time. Mental Floss books are always fun, sarcastic and irreverent and yet informative. I like the tidbits of information style, but it's probably best for reading smaller stretches at a time.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nklsweets

    I love random trivia and this is a cornucopia of facts.

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