The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits

The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits

Erik Sass, Steve Wiegand

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0061842672

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Pop quiz! Who said what about history?

History is . . .
(a) more or less bunk.
(b) a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken.
(c) as thoroughly infected with lies as a street whore with syphilis.

Match your answers:
(1) Stephen Daedalus of James Joyce's Ulysses
(2) Henry Ford
(3) Arthur Schopenhauer

It turns out that the answer need not be bunk, nightmarish, or diseased. In the hands of mental_floss, history's most interesting bits have been handpicked and roasted to perfection. Packed with little-known stories and outrageous—but accurate—facts, you'll laugh yourself smarter on this joyride through 60,000 years of human civilization.

Remember: just because it's true doesn't mean it's boring!

Now with Breaking News

"If You Thought the Last Depression Was Great . . ."

Answers: (a) 2 (b) 1 (c) 3

The Fun Factory

The Pirates! in an Adventure with the Romantics

The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater


















Venta (its Spanish name—the Olmec name is lost) probably had a population of about fifteen thousand, including skilled potters, basket makers, weavers, masons, and carpenters. Jewelers made exquisite jade ornaments for the rich and powerful, who also adorned themselves with colorful quetzal feathers. The Olmecs never invented the technology to make metal tools, remaining a Stone Age civilization. The first Olmec cities were centered on raised earthen mounds topped by temple structures. Beginning

with Octavian returning to Rome and Antony sailing to Egypt to begin a partnership (and romance) with Cleopatra. Cleopatra, who had once visited Julius Caesar in Rome and even bore him a son, was more than willing to partner with another Roman politician to secure her throne. But the wily Octavian took advantage of Rome’s traditional fear of Egypt to turn the Roman people against Antony and Cleopatra, accusing Antony of plotting with Cleopatra to bring Egyptian-style absolute monarchy to Rome

taxes, to the empire. The Gupta Empire period is often referred to as India’s “Golden Age.” Politically, things were pretty peaceable. Trade with Rome (India provided exotic eastern goods; Rome provided gold) was so good that at least one Roman historian complained that the empire’s bullion reserves were drained not by wars but by Indian merchants. Although Hindus, the Gupta emperors were tolerant, and even supportive of, Buddhism and Jainism. The rules of grammar for the written language of

when his dad, the Byzantine emperor Romanos II died, so he had to wait quite awhile to succeed his pop. While he was waiting, he honed his military skills. It proved to be time well spent. Once he took over the empire, he beat back uprisings by powerful landowners in Asia Minor, in part by marrying off his sister to a Russian prince. In return, Prince Vladimir I of Kiev allied his armies with Basil’s and converted to the Orthodox Christian Church. Then he whupped the Arabs and restored much of

1492 60,000 estimated native population of Hispaniola in 1508 <500 estimated native population of Hispaniola in 1548 6,000,000 annual silver output, in ounces, of Spanish possessions by 1585 2,000,000,000 total silver output, in ounces, of the Potosi mine in Bolivia, to date 3,000 number of Spaniards in Potosi in 1611 76,000 number of Indian slaves in Potosi in 1611 60 tons of silver captured by Francis Drake from the Spanish in two raids, 1573 and 1579 7,000 number of soldiers in

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