Publisher: Harper Entertainment: (An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)
Not many of us have ever heard of the “Secret Cabinets” let alone visited special places that were designated rooms within the great museums of Europe as the Louvre, the Prado, the British Museum, and the Museo Nazionale in Naples. It is within the walls of these chambers where anything that was deemed shocking and immoral was kept hidden, and if you wished to have access or a viewing you had to fill out an application or bribe the security guard.
Historian and author Tony Perrottet in his Napoleon’s Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped has now opened the door to a candy store of delightful and titillating stories that resemble some of the goodies that would have been found in these secret cabinets. As he states in his introduction, “a collection of the choicest morsels culled from the dark recesses of Western History, for the edification of the curious.” After reading these tidbits, if you still believe history is boring, then I am afraid nothing will change your mind.
How about this little morsel? On May 8th, 1945 Dr. Faust Shkaravaski found, after performing an autopsy on Hitler, that his scrotum sack had survived the botched SS cremation intact-“singed but preserved-but was definitely minus a bollock.” Stalin kept this news from the Allies and only in 1968 did the news leak out in the West. As a result, there was a swarm of all kinds of theories and explanations that kept historians quite busy. The three principal theories were Hitler was born that way; it was an old war wound and the Soviets made the whole thing up.
Ron Rosenbaum author of Explaining Hitler, who has apparently spent a great deal of time and effort in researching the subject matter, has concluded that it was all one big practical joke contrived by the Soviets in order to mess with Western minds.
Just as Aids today has taken on epidemic proportions, so too was syphilis and other venereal diseases in Paris of the 1890s. At the time, Paris was considered to be the sex capital of the world and one authority on sexually transmitted diseases estimated that fifteen percent of the city’s adult population was infected. Among the well-known celebrities who contacted syphilis were Gustave Flaubert, Charles Baudelaire, Guy de Maupassant, Edouard Manet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Gaugin.
If you are wondering about the title of the book and if there is a story about Napoleon’s privates, yes, there is a very interesting one.
It seems that Napoleon’s penis had drifted around Europe and the United States since the emperor’s demise in 1821 and as described, “dried out like beef jerky and kept in a leather presentation box adorned with a gold-embossed crown.” I guess what most irks the French is that it presently has found a home in a suitcase under a bed in suburban New Jersey.How can this have occurred? Read the book to find out?
Perrottet also reveals some delectable and irreverent tales about Cleopatra, Casanova, Thomas Jefferson, Columbus, Alexander the Great, George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Catherine the Great, Hercules, Abe Lincoln, the Marquis de Sade’s mother-in-law, the Vatican Hall of Shame, and many more that will keep you reading well into the night, probably either stunned or flabbergasted.
The above review was contributed by The Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com,Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L,Retired Title Attorney: Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, the couple meld Norm's words with Lily's art. To check out their travel site click on Sketchandtravel.comClick here to view Norm’s Reviews & Interviews.
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