With grisly enthusiasm, the author has devoured medical journals, autopsy reports, papers from the University of Maryland’s annual Historical Clinicopathological Conference and tomes bearing such tiles as The History of Corpse Medicine. The resulting harvest is a collection of stories about powerful people cut down before their time ... Some of the most fascinating chapters are devoted to scientific explanations to the mysterious deaths of Edward VI, Caravaggio, Mozart and Napoleon. Lesser-known characters are also given their due ... Certainly the most chilling are the contemporary stories of political poisoning, such as the mysterious fate of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and the brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un ... The most satanic are the lethal methods used against anti-Putin activists ... As a writer, Eleanor Herman has a British sensibility in her choice of metaphor or quirky oddity. She writes vividly and with great humor, combining detailed research with easy narrative, making her book both enthralling and sinister.
This fantastic work combines morbid curiosity and royal gossip. In it, readers will not only find out about who could’ve poisoned whom, but also why and with what. Lovers of Tudor history, costume dramas, and high fantasy will rejoice. Even with all of this glamour, however, this is not a book for the squeamish. Along with poisons, it covers many of the terrifying things royals once put on—and in—their bodies ... Not to mention the actual living conditions of the Renaissance royals, which were so filthy that even the peasants in a Monty Python film would’ve found them disgusting. Still, if, like me, you love dirty details, this isn’t a book to pass up ... Whereas some historians might hide behind their primary-source documents and academic vocabulary, Eleanor Herman is here to show us the naughty bits with tongue-and-cheek humor. The Royal Art of Poison is sure to make the perfect beach read, poolside pleasure, or bedside treat.
Eleanor Herman writes of gruesome events with wit and style. I found it engaging and descriptive—a rarity in the nonfiction genre. It’s truly a delight for history fans and writers alike. The Royal Art of Poison is a fantastic resource with a bulging bibliography and a wonderful little dictionary in the back matter ... Herman has written a solid, informative book, clearly delighting in her subject matter. It’s grotesque but fascinating and a welcome addition to my reference shelves. I look forward to further nonfiction works by Eleanor Herman.