Although it may sound a little strange, Napoleon’s Privates really is a rather interesting book. Let’s start with the official blurb on Amazon, which reads as follows:
When Tony Perrottet heard that Napoleon's "baguette" had been stolen by his disgruntled doctor a few days after the Emperor's death, he rushed out to New Jersey. Why? Because that's where an eccentric American collector who had purchased Napoleon's member at a Parisian auction now kept the actual relic in an old suitcase under his bed.
The story of Napoleon's privates triggered Perrottet's quest to research other such exotic sagas from history, to discover the actual evidence behind the most famous age-old mysteries: Did Churchill really send condoms of a surprising size to Stalin? Were champagne glasses really molded upon Marie Antoinette's breasts? What was JFK's real secret service? What were Casanova's best pickup lines? Napoleon's Privates is filled with offbeat, riotously entertaining anecdotes that are guaranteed to amaze, shock, and enliven any dinner party.
Well, I’m not sure about enlivening dinner parties (I don;t know how well some of these “factoids” would play at the family birthday party I will be attending this evening, for example), but I certainly discovered many tidbits of trivia with which I shall entertain my friends when next we quaff a beer or two; for example…
In the chapter Standing Up in Court (the chapters don’t have numbers, just titles) we discover that the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834) wasn’t the only thing you had to worry about. In the so-called French Impotence Trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, husbands charged by their wives with erectile dysfunction were obliged to prove their virility before witnesses (an “expert team” of priests, surgeons, and midwives). These learned observers would carefully examine the husband’s equipment for “elastic tension” and “natural motion” before … but I think it’s best that we stop here and move on to the next topic…
Later in the book, we discover that during the Second World War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was asked by Soviet leader Josef Stalin to help out with the Russian army’s serious shortage of condoms. According to this (possibly apocryphal) tale, Churchill ordered a special manufacturing run of condoms made at double the regular size, and then had them shipped to Russia in boxes that were stamped with the label Made in Britain – Medium (you have to laugh).
Now, I don’t know about you, I must admit that I’ve often wondered how it came about that “self-abuse” got such a bad rap. How many young lads have been cowed with fear over the years after hearing the dread utterance “Don’t do that … it will make you go blind!” Well, apparently we can date the origin of this sad state of affairs to London 1712, when an unsavory quack doctor called John Marten published a pamphlet that first alarmed the reader with a long, long list of potential problems (from headaches to rheumatism to shortsightedness to bowel disorders to…) and then offered the cure in the form of expensive medications that would deaden any dangerous nocturnal urges. (This strikes me as a perfect application for the combination of a time travelling machine and a rifle.)
Other chapters have titles that cannot fail to draw one in, such as First-Night Jitters, Sex and the Renaissance Nun, The Nazi Dictator’s Other Ball, Cleopatra – on a Scale of One to Ten, Holding Your Own at Caligula’s Orgies, Did Heretics Have More Fun?, and What Was J. Edgar Hoover’s Favorite Party Outfit?
All-in-all, this was a very interesting read and I’ve learned all sorts of interesting nuggets of knowledge about all sorts of things…
If you found this article to be of interest, visit Programmable Logic Designline
where – in addition to my blogs on all sorts of "stuff" (also check out my Max's Cool Beans
blog) – you will find the latest and greatest design, technology, product, and news articles with regard to programmable logic devices of every flavor and size (FPGAs, CPLDs, CSSPs, PSoCs...).
Also, you can obtain a highlights update delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for my weekly newsletter – just Click Here
to request this newsletter using the Manage Newsletters tab (if you aren't already a member you'll be asked to register, but it's free and painless so don't let that stop you [grin]).