When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History’s Unknown Chapters

Giles Milton. Picador, $16 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-07878-0
With an easily digestible mix of humor, trivia, and solid research, Milton (Nathaniel’s Nutmeg) introduces a new series focused on examining bizarre and oft-forgotten historical episodes. He highlights dozens of seemingly too-good-to-be-true tales, including those of Charles Joughin, a baker who survived the sinking of the Titanic by drinking an enormous amount of whiskey (some say two bottles); Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker who smuggled some 2,500 Jewish children to safety during WWII; and Dutch seaman Volkert Evertszoon, who along, with his shipwrecked compatriots, is likely responsible for the extinction of the dodo bird. Readers will likely be surprised to find out that some apocryphal-sounding stories—such as that of the Japanese soldier who continued to fight WWII decades after it had ended—are true, and Milton provides sources for those interested in pursuing matters further. Though some of these stories have been told many times (the infamous escape from Alcatraz, the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, the use of the Navajo language to foil Nazi code breakers, and the daring capture of Adolf Eichmann), there are plenty of fabulously dramatic adventures here that are less well known. Milton’s entertaining collection is sure to leave readers waiting for the next volume in the series. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/09/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-1-4736-0888-7
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-250-07877-3
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