A varied collection of trivia and anecdotes compiled by an enthusiast with an evident passion for his work.
Poe (Samson’s Rock, 2009) gathers information on a wide range of topics in this book, touching on everything from geography to word origins to sports. Each factoid appears in its own brief chapter, written in a chatty style that reminds the reader that this book should not be taken too seriously while delivering on the author’s promise to give the reader not just a list of trivia, but “stories...on why I find the fact of the moment interesting.” The facts, beginning with an explanation of why the Battle of Hastings was not fought in the town from which it takes its name, are generally unaccompanied by cited evidence, although sources for some sections are given at the end of the book. While readers looking for substantive documentation of Japan’s World War II balloon bombs or the origins of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” should look elsewhere for their research, more casual readers are likely to find their interest piqued by Poe’s explanations of why the sun sets more quickly in the tropics and why a mountain in the Canadian Rockies takes its name from English nurse Edith Cavell. The book occasionally veers away from established facts with remarks like “Unfortunately, all of this is speculation” and “I might well be perpetuating a linguistic urban myth or two.” But the majority of the book’s chapters seem to have more solidity, and the topics Poe has chosen to explore are both unusual, going beyond the trivia book favorites, and intriguing. The author makes no claims to expertise, but he declares himself an enthusiast and suggests that such enthusiasm may appeal to trivia fans who want to add new tidbits to their collections.
An engaging—though at times thinly sourced—guide to facts, legends and trivia of all sorts.