Troubador The Forgotten Past

The Forgotten Past

Released: 28/08/2019

ISBN: 9781789018790

eISBN: 9781838599119

aISBN: 9781838599164

Format: Paperback/eBook/Audio Book

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The Forgotten Past

An Eclectic Collection of Little Known Stories from the Annals of History


We’ve all been taught about kings and queens, great battles and the rise and fall of empires. The term historians have coined for this is ‘history from above’. But what about the ordinary folk? What about almost everybody who ever existed? What about the places where no earth-shattering events have ever occurred?

This book is comprised of fascinating stories and anecdotes throughout history, such as how a Bristol merchant may have played a part in giving America its name; why a First World War naval battle was fought in a jungle, and how Sir David Attenborough helped to solve a Victorian murder mystery.

That's Books

I adore little known parts of history! So, of course, this book was perfect for me. Some I had read of before, but quite a bit was new to me. If like me you're a fount of useless knowledge, then this might be right up your alley! I always say that I know a little about everything, but not much of anything in particular! My thanks to Andrew Vinken, his publisher's, and Netgalley. Recommended!

by Lisa

This book was extremely interesting and filled with nuggets of facts that I had never heard before. This is one that I recommend to anyone that loves history!

by Cristie

I’ve always been fascinated by, as the author Andrew Vinken terms it, the history from below: the stories and lives of everyday people from the past that are untold and so oft-forgotten. Taking the famous and important characters from history, and making them secondary to the characters that history neglects is such a wonderful idea!

This was just a really cool read if you’re a fan of history. I learned some very interesting little-known facts.

by Kyle

What a delightful surprise this book featuring interesting curios, anecdotes and little known facts from history turned out to be. The author, Andrew Vinken is keen to point out the difference between his history emanating from ordinary people and the ‘history from above’ approach that most of us learnt in school focusing on the rulers and not the ruled. Comprising of short readable chapters there is an eclectic range of subjects including a macabre unsolved murder, a regicidal hermit, a mysterious manuscript and a phantom dog.

Too be honest once I read one chapter I was so intrigued by the heading of the next one that I literally could not put the book down and was through it in no time at all. I have always been interested in the little known and unusual and found the easy going often humorous prose most appealing. There are also photographs to accompany the text.

If you have a liking for history told from a slightly different perspective and like to be entertained as well as educated then you can do a lot worse then to read this charmingly eccentric and engaging book.

by G Heard

Learn history from the bottom up. The "little guy" has done more to influence history than you might think. And there are interesting historical stories from places where nothing spectacular has ever happened. Yes that's counter-intuitive, but you will read them in this book. A rather quick read compared to other books I've read recently, but that's due to it being a well-flowing book that's difficult to stop reading.

by Jesse

A fun and lively collection of tales from the lesser-known side of the history of the western world.

This was a quite entertaining read, even if the writing style was sometimes a little too chatty. Still, the anecdotes were all interesting and easy to read, and I especially enjoyed the sections where events were cross-referenced with each other.

A fun read for history buffs.

by Chelsea

I highly enjoyed this charming romp through history trivia. Vincent takes a unique approach in that the stories he tells in this book are about “the history from below,” or the lives and stories of every day people who are too often forgotten. He has a knack for making famous and important figures from history seem secondary to the characters that stories usually neglect.

I love trivia and The Forgotten Past did not let me down in that area. Every story was engaging and taught me something new. I loved the obvious passion in the writing and I appreciated that the author let his voice show. Nothing noted in this book is ground breaking or too in-depth, but I gained so many new and valued perspectives from the way these stories were told. Better yet, I had so many fun facts and stories to share with the people around me.

I would definitely, and have already, recommend The Forgotten Past to my friends who love history and even those who don’t. It’s a fun read that “never lets the truth get in the way of a good story.” Enjoy.

by Alison

Interesting book. The author writes in a way that is like having a personal conversation with you over coffee. This book offers interesting parts of history that the textbooks forgot! Great for history lovers like myself.

by Margaret

Written by Andrew Vinken, I have found myself recommending this book to everyone I know. The Forgotten Past is filled with stories, both true and theories based on truth. If you enjoy history, or even if you don't, this is a really great book!

Hands down one of my favorite non-fiction reads, this was easy and moving and had SO MUCH I didn't know about.

Well written, this is written in more in a narrative style than the traditional dry non-fiction style that so many people avoid. Honestly, a really great book for people who don't usually like to read non-fiction.

by Sam

"An eclectic collection of little known stories from the annals of History"

Indeed it is!

This little book is full of weird and wonderful stories, many of people or events I've never heard of, but also some I have. It is very conversationalist in style, reminding of locally produced books about "Ghosts and Ghouls of Glasgow", "Murder and Mayhem in Manchester", etc.

To give you an idea of the treasures to be found within these pages, here are some sample paragraph titles:

Till cash do us part
Wright? Wrong!
The world's worst poet
The Phantom Doggie of Logeriat Parish
The surprising history of everyday words
Lord Loincloth and the rumble in the jungle

And that's just for starters! Something for everyone here, great for finding obscure quiz questions to baffle your contestants with, or anecdotes to dazzle partgoers with when there is a lull in the conversation!

This is a dip in and out book, not meant to be read front to back. For example, I immediately went to the chapter The Voynich Manuscript, because I've heard of it before and it fascinates me.

by Carolyn

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Matador, for an advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I loved this book, it ought to be a series! I felt I was sitting in an old time pub with an exccentic uncle who knew far too much and loving every minute of his non-stop one sided conversation. The collection of stories were very entertaining and made me laugh out loud more than once and the more sober stories broke my heart. A very easy book to read in manageble chapter chunks that you can put down and come back to. I have already decided to purchase a few copies of this book for Christmas stocking fillers for those whom I know will love it as much as I did.

by ZPollock

One of the nicest things about this book is Vinken's writing style, he has very personable voice which made each chapter a genuine pleasure to read. The sections are varied and cover a lot of ground, from the real inventor of flight to con men, murder mysteries, and dreadful poets.

As a proud owner of McGonagall's collected works of poetry, it's always a treat to see him remembered, even if it is as a figure of fun.

by Kat

I received a free copy of this 'The Forgotten Past' by Andrew Vinken from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The book is a eclectic collection of little known stories from the annals of History, two stories I particularly enjoyed reading were, The Phantom Doggie of Logeriat Parish and The world's worst poet

I found this book really easy to read and I enjoyed the conversational style of writing.

As the book is a collection of stories it was easy to dip in and out of and there was need to read from front to back.

All the stories are engaging and taught me something new some, the stories would also make great conversation starters at parties.

Would recommend this book to history lovers and people who love reading trivial.

by S Ballinger

The Forgotten Past is a lighthearted look at history. Vinken provides brief lesser-known narratives of the past complete with related illustrations. The interesting and engaging stories are filled with history trivia and quirky details. This is a great resource for history lovers!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

by Jill

I received a copy of The Forgotten Past from Netgalley.

I thought The Forgotten Past was written in a very informative and informal style, where one can imagine sharing a sandwich at the pub while a friend regales you with obscure facts he's looked up on google late at night. It was easy to read and very communicative. The stories were short - some less than a paragraph! - and each section was accompanied by at least one or two photographs, which really helped set the mood of the piece. Unfortunately the file I was given was faulty, and the images were stretched six ways to Sunday - but I'm sure this was an error on the file's part and not the author's, and so will not include that as part of my star rating.

The stories were engaging and interesting, although I had heard several of them before - two in fact were drawn straight from the podcast My Favourite Murder, but it was still interesting to revisit them from another point of view. I believe they could have been fleshed out a bit more with some more research, as a lot of them were just bare bones facts, with no narrative to join them together.
I do wish there had been more representation from historically forgotten groups, such as women or people of colour. It was a very euro-centric view of history. When women were mentioned, they were either already murdered/dead or else made fun of by the author - contrast this with his evident enjoyment of the con-men who make up some of these stories!

All in all, a great book for battering your Pub Quiz leader or for gifting to the people in your life who like to know everything! (Or if you don't know your co-worker that well and need to get them something in the secret santa!)

by Kathryn

A nice easy read that sheds light on varied historical happenings throughout the world and time. I found his tales at time familiar and at times illuminating.

by Peter

This book is perfect for all types of history buffs and even for those that consider themselves not "history people!"

Have you ever wondered about the people who only receive maybe a footnote in history? Or worse the ones that are lost to history for being peasants, the common folk, etc etc? Then this book is for you! Peppered with colorful characters, Andrew Vinken offers short chapters on interesting anecdotes throughout history. Every thought of who came up with selling mineral water? There's a story on that. What's wife selling? There's a story for that too!

In the end the book makes you think more about everyday history, etymology, and more! You'll have plenty of fun facts at your next book club to share.

by Azra

I love books that offer little tidbits of lesser-known history especially if they are facts about everyday lives and people. "The Forgotten Past" offers this in abundance. Although I was aware of a few of these facts, there was enough new information to keep my interest. This is definitely a good read if you want to learn something that may not be in most history books.

by Veronica

A fascinating look at the alternative side of history. Always find the unsung stories from the past to be the most interesting and this just did not disappoint.

by Paul

History nerds and lovers of ephemeral minutiae take note; Andrew Vinken has written the perfect book for you. This delightful little cabinet of curiosities unveils antique treasures which fell through the cracks. Here can be found tales of overlooked pioneers, troublesome spirits, siblings of the rich and powerful, and ancient relics. I particularly enjoyed the sections on the origins of words and phrases and a retelling of a spooky mystery from my neck of the woods; Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?

by Zoe

I thought this was an interesting read and I read it rather quickly. I did not know a large portion of the stories but a few I had some knowledge about. If you are interested in history and trivia then you will probably enjoy this book. A fast and entertaining read.

by Travis

I really enjoyed this book and will be seeking more of this author's work. I love history so it was right up my street. Highly recommended.

by Claire

This was an amusing read with a collection of brief stories about an assortment of "lesser known" historical events that are not necessarily all going to be brand new to readers, but are told in an engaging way. It's very easy to read for a short time before putting the book down again, so this book would be great for your coffee table, travel bag, or nightstand. Given the length of each part, it's nowhere near a comprehensive history book with full descriptions of the context and details of each situation, but readers can learn an assortment of trivia by reading this and there's always the option to look up anything one wants to learn more about.

by Maria

Andrew Vinken

Andrew Vinken was born in Hillingdon, Middlesex in 1963 and attended Vyners Grammar School in nearby Ickenham. He later studied with the Open University, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities. Andrew currently lives in Pitstone, Buckinghamshire, with his wife, Helen and son, Joseph.

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