History’s Biggest Show-Offs

History’s Biggest Show-Offs
Andy Seed, illustrated by Sam Caldwell
Happy Yak

What is it about some people that makes them want to show off about their achievements? Have you ever wondered who the biggest braggers of all time might be? If so then Andy Seed has done the work for you, presenting in his lighthearted style, the flashiest boasters in the history of humankind.

The book is divided into three main parts entitled People in Charge, People Who Think Up Stuff and People Who Create Things; however if readers prefer they can look instead at different time periods: ancient (c.6000 BCE to 500 CE), post-classical (c.500-1500 CE), early modern (c1500 – 1800 CE) and modern (c. 1800 to the present).

We’re introduced to eleven rulers, five of whom were women. These include Hatshepsut, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Tarabai who at just twenty five, took over the leadership of the Marathas after the death of her husband and proceeded to show off her military skills to overcome the Mughals; and Christina of Sweden, she who was super-brainy and loved to read. Among the men was Mansu Musa who when on Haj, took 12, 000 servants each with a bag of gold to give away en route to Mecca.

Those with a scientific or technological bent include the first ever computer programmer, Ada Lovelace

and Ynes Mexia, an intrepid plant collector from the early 20th C who discovered 500 new species and had fifty plants named after her. Having studied at Brunel University, I have to mention the ace engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel who, with help from his father, built the first ever tunnel beneath a river (The Thames) and who sadly died before his exceedingly costly Clifton Suspension Bridge was finished.
Finally come the creative types: Ustad Ahmad Lahori was asked by Shah Jahan to create a building in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz and that’s how the magnificent Taj Mahal came to be. Another show-off architect Antoni Gaudi is famous for Barcelona’s still unfinished Sagrada Familia.

There’s a wealth of bling too, as Andy Seed’s humorous writing brings all these and more back to life and he’s even included some quizzes to ramp up the fun. Talking of fun, Sam Caldwell’s zany illustrations certainly add more of that in abundance: even the timeline will make readers giggle.

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