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December 28, 2005
ART AND CULTURE
The Bookworm Sez
EATONVILLE, Washington (STPNS) -- ?The Greatest War Stories Never Told? by Rick Beyer
c.2005, HarperCollins $18.95, 214 pages
Remember high school history class?
Some people excelled in it. Others consider high school History class as a portion of their lives best... well, best left to history. All those dates. All those battles. All those kings and despots and commanders that you had to try to remember. Ugh. Why couldn't history be fun?
It is, when you read ?The Greatest War Stories Never Told? by Rick Beyer. Pick up this book, and you'll see that history is exciting, interesting and enjoyable.
Remember Davy Crockett? Sure, he was the guy with the coonskin cap who fought valiantly at the Alamo, right?
Wrong, according to Mexican soldiers.
They claim that at the end of the battle, Crockett and six others were discovered quite alive, having retreated to a back room. Crockett reportedly tried to talk his way out of the situation, but General Santa Anna ordered the prisoners executed on the spot.
Speaking of Santa Anna, the General lived in New York City for a while after The Battle of the Alamo. Ever the revolutionary, he devised a money-making scheme to use chicle as a cheap rubber substitute. The idea didn't work for tires or balloons, but it worked really well for chewing gum.
Almost everybody knows about the ?don't ask, don't tell? policy of the U.S. military, but did you know that one ancient Spartan military force consisted entirely of 300 gay soldiers? They were called The Sacred Band, and for more than 30 years, they remained undefeated. You'll find out why in this book.
You'll also learn about the U.S. Government's failed attempt to use camels in the quest to settle the Old West; the second career of a military failure; a prayer that General Patton ordered his soldiers to repeat; a Nazi supporter who stood woman who stood up to the House of Representatives; a huge hoax that fooled Hitler; and a whole lot more.
I really like books like these. ?The Greatest War Stories Never Told? is easy to pick up and put down. You don't have to try to remember a long, detailed plot line. You don't even have to read every page if you don't want to. And if you've got five minutes, you've got time to learn something fun-to-know because each chapter is exactly two quick pages long.
Author Rick Beyer says that these stories are found everywhere ? in textbooks, online, and in old papers or library books. He says it's easy to find stories like these, but verifying them can take some effort. As you're reading this book, you'll be glad that he did the research because these stories wouldn't be half as much fun if you couldn't believe them.
Whether you're a history buff who couldn't wait for class to start, or a history buffoon who couldn't wait for class to end, you're going to find something fascinating when you read ?The Greatest War Stories Never Told.? Pick it up and enjoy.
Your high school history teacher would be so proud.
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