JR Books £8.99
Napoleon's Haemorrhoids, By Phil Mason
Sunday 22 November 2009
The history of Europe might have turned out very differently had Napoleon not had an attack of haemorrhoids that intervened with his usual battlefield surveillance. How such seemingly tiny events can have large consequences is the subject matter of Phil Mason's entertaining book. Tiny paragraphs are organised under categories including history, politics, war, science, art, sport, crime and business.
One of the best chapters is "Artistic Strokes (of Luck)", in which we learn about Agatha Christie's chance path to writing: born to a mother who believed no child should look at a book before the age of eight, it was working in a chemist's dispensary in her mid-twenties that fuelled so many of Christie's poison-filled plots. Meanwhile, Evelyn Waugh would not have lived to write Decline and Fall had his suicide attempt by drowning, aged 21, been successful (he was deterred by a shoal of jellyfish).
Some of Mason's examples stray beyond the bounds of his own theory. But the more apposite are well worth reading.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained star's white boyfriend Brian Lucas confirms LAPD internally investigating 'racist' detainment
- 2 Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
- 3 Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 4 Say yes to 'no-poo': It's been three years since I stopped washing my hair
- 5 John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time: 'That was the lowest I'd ever felt'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter