Twisted History: 32 True Stories of Torture, Traitors, Sadists and Psychos…Plus the Most Celebrated Saints in History
by Howard Watson
2015, 176 pages, 7.5 x 9.4 x 0.5 inches (softcover)
The careers of history's worst despots, murderers, assassins, and traitors are examined in this lurid and grisly page turner. The usual suspects are all featured: Hitler, Stalin, Jack The Ripper, Vlad The Impaler, and other unsavory characters. Some lesser known fiends, such as Gilles De Rais, the French nobleman who murdered 140 children in the 15th century, Lavrentia Beria, Stalin's henchman who was responsible for the execution of 22,000 Poles in the Katyn Massacre, Tomas de Torquemada, who executed 2,000 Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, and Thug Berham, the Indian serial killer who strangled almost 1,000 people, are also given a moment in the spotlight.
Comprised of a brief overview of the villains' crimes against humanity, with Fact Files showing their history, legacy, and circumstance of death, descriptions of their downfall and punishment, often including torture, and photos of their jail cells or gravesites, Twisted History keeps things short and sweet, compelling the reader to continue turning pages to see what unspeakable horror could possibly follow the last. The mood is lightened briefly by recounting the lives of honorable figures who've made the world a better place, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Then it's right back to the scoundrels, the outlaws, the killers, and thieves.
Featuring bloodstained pages illustrated with vivid paintings, ancient wood cuts, and historic photos, Twisted History sums up the infamous lives and tragic death tolls of the worst people in history in about a half a dozen pages per monster, hopping from time period to time period and various parts of the globe. The book concentrates on the major bullet points, and those searching for a more in-depth analysis of the depths of depravity should probably hunt elsewhere. History buffs might be a bit disappointed that new ground isn't explored, but it's a good starting point for those interested in a brief visit to some of history's darkest hours.
– S. Deathrage