Reviews for Historical Heartthrobs : 50 Timeless Crushes- from Cleopatra to Camus


Booklist Reviews 2013 December #2
From Benjamin Franklin to Benazir Bhutto, Murphy introduces 50 historical crushes in chronological order. At first glance, the list seems to be a hodgepodge of politicians, authors, aviators, trailblazers, activists, movie stars, entrepreneurs, outlaws, guerrilla fighters, sensationalists, and so on. But similarities come out through the chapters, each of which includes a full-page picture with a vital statistics inset, a one-and-a-half-page Life Story, a one-column Story of His/Her Sex Life, a brief Why He/She Matters column, a Best Feature paragraph, a Heat Factor statement (including thermometer), and a Quotables inset. While the short biographical sketches are informative and interesting, it's the titillating nature of the sex-life column should have teens tittering. The further reading section includes many similar books that could spark interest in historical scandals. Not a book to be read from beginning to end, but surely a tantalizing start for a beginning researcher. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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ForeWord Magazine Reviews 2013 - Winter Issue

From villains like John Wilkes Booth to heroes like TR and Tesla, they all had that certain something.

While there have been many ways to capture the public imagination throughout history, being attractive has certainly never hurt. Some of the world's most famous figures owe their legacies at least in part to their charisma, their romantic reputation, or just their looks. For Historical Heartthrobs, Kelly Murphy has compiled profiles of fifty important historical figures who became sex symbols in their time, ranging from the obvious to the quirky to the flat-out infamous. Though aimed primarily at a teen audience, it's a fun book for any reader, with a balanced mix of historical anecdotes, romantic trivia, and witty, accessible writing.

As the introduction explains, the book focuses primarily on figures from more recent history, whose physical attractiveness could be captured by photography, or at least a painted portrait. (The few exceptions, like Cleopatra or Lord Byron, are famous at least in part for their legendary attractiveness and romantic exploits).

Murphy casts a wide net in selecting who qualifies as a heartthrob and for what reason, allowing her to mix in stories about people who have little else in common. Some, like dancer Josephine Baker or author George Sand, were famous as sex symbols, while others like Benjamin Franklin and Marie Antoinette used their charms to influence the course of history, for better or worse. The subjects even include notorious figures like actor-turned-assassin John Wilkes Booth, gangster Bugsy Siegel and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, who were known for being easy on the eyes before becoming household names for significantly less-desirable traits.

Each chapter includes a "heat factor" rating of the subject's heartthrob-worthiness and a description of their "best feature," along with a blurb about their romantic history and a series of quotes by and about them. There's enough biography in each short chapter to introduce readers who aren't history fans to figures they should know, while also providing short anecdotes and sidebars that will keep history buffs entertained.

The writing is conversational and dryly funny without crossing the line into goofy, as the subjects' historical accomplishments are treated seriously despite the book's casual tone. For example, Murphy considers Teddy Roosevelt "the perfect combination of rugged adventurer, egg-headed brainiac, and enthusiastic charmer," recounting the highlights of his famously rough-and-tumble career. As for Nikola Tesla's celibacy, the book has this to say: "Scientific integrity was so important to this guy that he lived an entirely sexless life so as to not get distracted from his scientific pursuits."

The graphic design is equally well balanced, with lots of elements for the reader to peruse without the visuals overwhelming the content. For a book like Historical Heartthrobs to work for its intended audience, it has to find a balance between informative and entertaining, and Murphy had managed to find that mix.

© 2013 ForeWord Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 October #2
A hit-or-miss selection of notable personalities who made a dent in history. That "the 50 people in this book made other people swoon" is debatable, even accounting for taste, but since the authors consider the nature of "hotness varied, from physical to intellectual to emotional," much yardage is added to the meaning of "heartthrob." On the upside of the book are the pithy character sketches, which get to the nub of their historical impact while keeping the language light. It can drift into campy or corny, but that probably comes with the territory. Each entry ends with short paragraphs marking why this person mattered, his or her best feature, his or her ranking on the "heat factor" (an index of their pros and cons), and the story of his or her sex life. This last, except in the most notorious cases--Lord Byron, George Sand--is either rumor or farce: Harriet Beecher Stowe? W.E.B. DuBois? The overarching issue is "heartthrob"--a hook that doesn't deliver. The emphasis here is on sex appeal--why else make special note of their sex lives?--not just passion, and it is difficult to count Leni Riefenstahl, Bugsy Siegel and Benazir Bhutto in that number (though Eddie Chapman and Maya Deren are gusts of fresh air). "Historical Game Changers" doesn't have the teasing selling power of "Heartthrobs," but it may nail John Wilkes Booth more squarely. (Nonfiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 November #3

The good thing about falling for a dead person is that they never leave you, as Murphy and Fryd demonstrate in this broad-ranging, tongue-in-cheek guide to the hotties of history. The diverse individuals profiled stand out for their commitment to social causes, artistic and political influence, and sheer audacity. Included are Frida Kahlo ("Even her eyebrows became icons"), Lord Byron ("Style of seduction: Breakin' hearts"), Harry Houdini, Frederick Douglass, and even a few living people, such as Jane Goodall and Gloria Steinem. The authors candidly explore each individual's accomplishments (under the heading "Why She/He Matters"), sex lives, reputation, and "Heat Factor" (George Sand's androgyny, same-sex affairs, and rejection of rigid social mores earn her a "Scandalously hot" rating, while the celibate Nikola Tesla "may have had good looks, but he also only had eyes for science"). Controversial figures ("Hotness doesn't necessarily equal goodness," as the introduction quips), such as Nazi sympathizer and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (high cheekbones don't compensate for brushing elbows with Hitler), receive nuanced examination. With engrossing photos, lively quotations, and witty writing, it's "the complete package"--just like Nellie Bly. Ages 14-up. (Jan.) ¦

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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VOYA Reviews 2014 April
Challenging the stereotype of history being dull, these authors profile fifty notables considered sexy by their contemporaries in this entertaining compilation. The same four-page format is followed throughout, beginning with the individual's full-page drawing or photograph, a paragraph introduction and a longer life summary, information about his/her sex life (i.e., relationship/marital history), contemporary importance, best feature, and heat factor. Pages are colorful and filled with graphics containing quotes and other facts, such as the CIA employed Gloria Steinem or that Teddy Roosevelt's wife and mother died on the same day. A wide variety of people are profiled, ranging from familiar personages like Cleopatra, Benjamin Franklin, and Jane Goodall to the perhaps lesser-known Maya Deren, Benazir Bhutto, and Mustafa Atatürk. The infamous, such as John Wilkes Booth, Huey Newton, and Fidel Castro, are also included. The information is often fascinating, with much probably unfamiliar to readers, whether teens or adults As most profiled are not generally considered sex symbols, it is interesting to see them in this light, but focusing on romantic attractiveness to make historical figures more appealing doubtless limits this to a female audience. Moreover, the "Style of Seduction" ("Droppin' knowledge" for Ben Franklin; Fidel Castro's "Takin' charge") and "Heat Factor" ("Pretty good-looking for a cold-blooded killer" for Bugsy Siegel) sections veer toward cheesy, teen-magazine territory, although readers may disagree. Students generally read selections from nonfiction rather than the entire work, but this book is so absorbing, it should entice its audience to linger.--Lisa HazlettThis book's format--full of graphics, pictures, and quotes--creates a fun and interesting read, and its serious information would be helpful for a school report. However, describing dates with the notables and hotness factors seems silly and unrealistic--who thinks about dating Ben Franklin? The infamous profiles are the most interesting, and including more of those might have made this more attractive to males, but overall its romantic focus and girly cover scream female. 4Q, 2P.--Twila A. Sweeney, Teen ReviewerPrince, Jennifer R. The Handy Bible Answer Book. Visible Ink, 2014. 432p. $19.95 Oversize pb. ISBN 978-1-57859-478-8. Illus. 4Q 4P Following an introductory chapter, this answer book marches through the Old and New Testaments in the usual order of the books of the Bible, dispensing nuggets of information in the form of answers to 1,700 "commonly asked questions." Such extensive use of the Q&A format seems a trifle forced, as if the author had too obviously reverse-engineered questions that would elicit precisely the answers she wished to impart. Nevertheless, the text is informative, and contentious issues are handled judiciously. The author notes point out ambiguity and dispute. She readily concedes that there are conflicting passages in both the Old and New Testaments, for example, the two creation stories in Genesis and the differing accounts of Judas Iscariot's death by Matthew and Luke. The authorial perspective appears to be mainstream Protestant, and in the historical/critical tradition rather than literalist/fundamentalist Although the work is not specifically marketed to teens, it is written and presented in a highly accessible manner that should appeal to adolescents interested in the Bible. The text is easy to read, even colloquial at times. The chapter "The Bible and Pop Culture" will appeal to teens. The resource may be useful in Christian home schooling and Christian charter school settings. The advance reader's copy available to this reviewer lacks an index or bibliography; however, those two features, along with an appendix and glossary, are promised for the final version, which is planned to be fifty pages longer. More than one hundred black-and-white illustrations enhance the text.--Walter Hogan Index. Photos. Illus. Author's Note. Intro. Charts. Further Reading. 4Q 2P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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