I recently had the opportunity to read The Pocket Guide to Brilliance by Bart King (thank you Bart for the copy) and I have to say it was a really good book. I hadn’t previously read one of his books, but after reading this one I expect to read some of his other books.
The only thing with this book is that it’s hard to summarize what it’s about. And that’s a good thing! To quote the back of the book: “Little-known historical trivia that will enlighten and delight”. That’s better than I could summarize it. It’s a small book with tons of interesting historical trivia. Fancying myself as a fairly knowledgeable person about history, I have to admit I learned more than usual from this book. Of course not all the things I learned where usable in life, but they sure were interesting!
For example, did you know that Thomas Jefferson greeted people at the White House in his pajamas? Even ambassadors! But the book is about much more than that, I just liked that particular example since I also like to work in my pajamas when I can, and I can now say I’m not alone. That a great historical figure such as the president of the United States also worked in his pajamas.
But in all seriousness I did learn more than just trivia. And Bart style of writing is very interesting to read, he has a witty sense of humor which really comes out well in his writing.
Before I finish, some quick historical tidbits from the book. Did you know the senate tried to call the president “His highness, the President of the United States, and the Protector of Its Liberties”? Can you imagine? Did you know that the lowest IQ score for a president in the last 110 years was 110? And it wasn’t George Bush! (you’ll have to read the book to find out who) And the book is not just about politics, it’s about a motley of topics. For example do you know where the art of mooning started? Or which soft drink featured a label stating it “would tickle your innards” and featured pictures of outhouses? (again you’ll have to read the book to find out who)
If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend checking it out. It’s a good light read with some fun takeaways. And it’s a nice change from all the business, marketing, and software development books I usually read.