Titans of History Review

  • Author: Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Biography
  • No. of pages: 620
  • Year Published: 2009
  • Dates read: 21.08.19 – 02.09.19
  • Rating: 2 stars

Is there one word that can guide a person in life?

How about shu? Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?

– Confucius (Pg 23)

Finally got there with this book. Wow, it was a struggle to get through this.

Plot: Simon Sebag Montefiore presents the lives of the giants who have made our world. The cast varies from conquerors, poets, kings, empresses and whores to psychopaths, prophets, composers and explorers. Informative, entertaining, inspiring and sometimes horrifying, this is a history of the world that contains the characters everyone should know and the stories no one should forget. (Goodreads)

When the Persians threatened to let loose so many arrows that the light of the sun would be blotted out, one Spartan commented, “So much better. We will fight in the shade.”

– SSM on Leonidas (Pg 29)

This was an average read for me. I found myself skipping a lot of the people listed in this book as I wasn’t really interested in the content about them. This tended to be the more military/political individuals featured as it tended to just be about a lot of battles and specific dates chucked in. The artists, writers and certain monarchs on the other hand were really enjoyable to read. I think this came down to the fact they had more “interesting” lives.

Caligula personifies the immortality, bloodlust and insanity of absolute power.

– SSM on Caligula (Pg 81)

The writing at times through me off. Some biographies would be incredibly factual and unbiased and then others would be very opinionated and I personally would have preferred if it stuck to one writing style. I also felt that the writing itself was not as engaging as I wanted it to be, I felt bored reading it and it ended up being a task to even pick it up.

I have sinned terribly, and I do not know what punishment awaits me.

– Aurangzeb’s alleged death-bed confession. (Pg 257)

I was also disappointed to see that there were only 18 women featured in this book and roughly 53 POC individuals included as well. Most of the POC individuals were from China and the Middle East so their was not much South American, African and South/East Asian individuals. I understand you can’t have everything but considering there were 172 individuals included in this anthology, I thought the numbers would be higher and would cover more of the world. It would have been a great way to highlight lesser known Titans!

Like Shakespeare, she took, as it were, the common dross of humanity, and by her wonderful power of literary alchemy, turned into pure gold.

– George Barnett Smith, on Jane Austen, in The Gentleman’s Magazine, No. 258 (1895) (Pg 339)

After this tome, I decided for something more light-hearted to read alongside it so… The next book I will be reviewing will be The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. So excited to be back and re-reading this modern classic about demigods!

2 thoughts on “Titans of History Review

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