Top 5 books for extra-curious minds

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Edward Brooke-Hitching, author of The Fool’s Gallerychooses its Top 5 quirky books.

1. Rogues, Villains and Excentrics: An A-Z of Roguish Britons Through the Ages by William Donaldson

Platinum, the unobtainium of fun non-fiction, a nutty collection of funny, sometimes joyfully horrifying short biographies of the most eccentric characters in British history.

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2. Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Peddler, The Man Who Pursued Him, And The Age Of Flimflam By Pope Brock

If you’re unfamiliar with early 20th-century charlatan John Romulus Brinkley, buckle up and dive into this stunning story of the doctor who made an absolute fortune from his patented pseudoscience involving the xenotransplantation of goat testicles.

3. The Land That Never Was: Sir Gregor Macgregor and History’s Most Audacious Fraud by David Sinclair

My favorite story from forgotten history, brilliantly researched and told. A tale people just can’t believe they’ve never heard before. One of the greatest financial scams of all time, perpetrated by one of the
the most outlandish characters of all time, and simply breathtaking.

4. Crowthorne’s Surgeon: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

The origin story of the Oxford English Dictionary seems too strange to be fiction or fact, an episode of forgotten history full of twists and turns that is captivating and surprising.

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5. A field guide to the English clergy: a compendium of various eccentrics, pirates, prelates and adventurers; All Anglicans, some even practicing by Reverend Fergus Butler-Gallie

The Good Reverend pulls together a raging company of colleagues and predecessors to form an absolute one-book clown car, complete with eccentrics tumbling from every angle. Witty, bonkers, delicious.

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