The Royal Art of Poison

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 4 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

This book was interesting from a historical viewpoint. I enjoyed reading about the prevention methods and found that to be fascinating. Recommended to those who enjoy reading this type of book.
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This a fascinating look through the links between poison and the nobility (not just royalty).  This contextualises poison an its time and place.  Enough detail for the knowledgeable, not too much for the less strong of stomach!
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This is a fairly interesting book regarding life in the middle ages, quite an eye opener about the prevalence of poisons both in the use of killing others and killing ones self. I did like the murder/ poison analysis of case histories which took up the second part of the book.
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I am interested in the history of science, so I was really happy to receive a copy of this book and it didn't disappoint.
The author explains in layman terms how prevalent poisonous materials were in everyday life and then examines some supposed cases of poisoning from a modern perspective.  This shows most supposed poisonings were actual due to poor lifestyle choices or the medicine of the time. 
The book finishes with some examples of modern poisons. 
An interesting read
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This was wonderful - but obviously only for those of a non-squeamish nature with an interest in the subject. Even I grimaced a time or two!
You can tell how incredibly detailed the author's research was and I just found it absolutely fascinating. 

I will definitely be reading the author's other works as soon as possible. 

This was set up in three parts:
Part 1 - was 5 chapters describing poisons used throughout history not only to kill but also to 'cure' afflictions, enhance make up and health, as well as beliefs in miracle cures such as unicorn horn and the poisonous towns and buildings people lived in. 

Part 2 - case studies of historical figures who had died one way or another from poison. These famous figures include Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible and King Edward, the son of Henry VIII. Following each case study was a modern day autopsy, or in the cases of British monarchs whom we are not allowed to disturb from Westminster by order of the Queen or the French ones who were destroyed during the French Revolution, modern day explanations from historical accounts. 

Part 3 - Poisons in the modern era, not only what we use them for today but more modern cases of poisons being used against political dissenters, such as enemies of the Russian regime. 

Trigger warnings for the following:
gore, bodily fluids, blood, cannibalism, surgery, torture, animal torture and death, descriptions in detail of autopsies, mention of rape, death of babies, miscarriages, desecration of graves.
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Whether you’re a history aficionado or just someone who gets their kicks reading about nauseatingly repulsive diseases and the  medical treatments endured by our predecessors in the name of science you will love Eleanor Herman’s THE ROYAL ART OF POISON. 

Ms. Herman’s in-depth research reveals that most suspected poisonings of folks from the twelfth century forward were in reality caused by perforated gastric ulcers, bacterial infections, typhoid, cosmetics and ointments, kidney failure, as well as filthy palaces a lack of hygiene. (Regular bathing was frowned upon and considered “unhealthy”).  The remedies prescribed by physicians of the day ranged from mercury enemas and unicorn horns to arsenic and lead based “medications” and elixirs made from rat or rooster dung. (and that was only the tip of the iceberg).

I must admit that never before has a history lesson been presented in a manner that is as intriguing, informative and entertaining as THE ROYAL ARE OF POISON.  I loved it!
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The Royal Art of Poison is definitely the  most humorous non-fiction I have ever read. It is the perfect blend of learning about a topic and laughing at the hilarious commentary.

Herman writes in a style that is both easy to read and invites the reader to learn so much about such a dark topic. I found the ways that kings and queens would try to ward off poison amazing with the unicorn horns but it was very real then. The quest to prevent poison, not the unicorns!

My favourite section was the use of poisons in daily life. Women putting arsenic on their face as foundation or painters slowly getting driven mad by their lead based paints.

I would completely recommend the Royal Art of Poison for anyone trying to get into the non-fiction genre but needs a bit of humour around an interesting topic.

*ARC received from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
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I really enjoyed the second half of this book but I found the first half a bit of a slog to get through. The first section details the various different things that medieval and renaissance nobility did to themselves in the name of fashion or health that were ultimately really harmful. For some reason, I thought that this section was a bit dull and quite repetitive in places. The second section was much more engaging for me, as this took specific individuals from history who were suspected of being poisoned and evaluated whether they were or not. Then finally, the author included a section on present day poisoning, which again, was really interesting. I just wonder whether the structure of the book let it down a little for me. I think I would have been engaged throughout if the case studies had appeared between each chapter. Overall, there was a lot of really fascinating information in this book and it was clearly very well researched.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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A fascinating book, well written and well researched. I liked the style of writing and how the book is organized.
I learned a lot and was entertaining but facts and stories.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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The Royal Art of Poison is a superb book.  From the moment I started reading it I was hooked. 

It was well written and full of facts. Some fun and some stomach turning!!! My goodness Im so glad we live in a cleaner world now with toilets and washing facilities!!! 

I really enjoyed the middle section of the book where the Author investigated mysterious deaths of famous people throughout the ages and told of how they thought the person died in those days and now with modern medicine if they actually were murdered of died of natural causes.  

Definately a book I would go back to read again.

Thanks to Netgalley and Prelude Books for the ARC Copy. (My review is my own opinion.)
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An accurate and detailed account of the history of poison throughout the history, from ancient Rome to the Modern Era. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Prelude Books for a copy of this book to read and review.
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Tracing the history of poison - and all its uses - through the history books. Succinctly written, hugely entertaining, informative and served up with a dry, wry and delicious dose of humour. Wickedly superb.
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