"Those who do not understand history are bound to repeat it," is often shockingly true. Yes, knowing about the past is vital—not just the major names and key events, but also the minor facts that help us comprehend a historical individual or the age in which they existed. Perhaps it's a startling discovery that causes you to reconsider common wisdom. Perhaps it's a bizarre anecdote that catches your attention. But whatever case may be, it's the small, startling bits of the past that are possibly the most entertaining—the kind of information that is so bizarre and out there that it just can’t be replicated.

Even in death, affluent, talented, famous, and infamous people from our history have the potential to capture our imagination. It turns out that what we think we know about historical figures is frequently only the tip of the iceberg. The truth may be unexpected or painful, but it is far from predictable...

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