In historian Weir's newest, he examines and debunks popular historical myths, trimming the proceedings in a textbook-like assemblage of color illustrations and sidebars. Weir cites numerous sources while restoring historical accuracy to popular legends, including Nero's fiddling, the ""unconquerable"" Afghanistan and Paul Revere's ride. Though largely well-written and meticulously researched, Weir stretches mightily to incorporate some of his investigations; his look at Jesse James in particular rings false, citing an ""American Robin Hood"" myth that Weir may as well have made up (has anyone ever argued that James wasn't a vicious murderer and thief?). A few more stories like this unfortunately detract from the strong entries; especially illuminating are the passages on Wyatt Earp and John Dillinger. Though there are surprises to be found for history buffs, knowledgeable readers will find enough off-track editorializing and fluff to question some of Weir's more salient and interesting points. 125 color illus.
Reviewed on: 01/04/2009 Release date: 01/01/2009 Genre: Nonfiction