A gonzo view of tats through the ages: mostly British, frequently profane, replete with extravagantly inked caricatures.
As if the title weren’t warning enough, early “facts”—“Maternity units report babies being born with tattoos to heavily inked parents”—will clue readers in that the accuracy bar has been set about as low as it will go. Starting with a topless and heavily decorated Eve, Thomas surveys inking and body piercing from Cleopatra’s “tramp stamps” through Henry VIII’s “Fukke ye Pope” and Bloody Mary’s award-winning “Reare of ye Yeare 1552” to the “C III R” and “About Time!” of “King Charles the Third.” Along with (literally) uncovering dozens of historical figures on the Continent, he spares glances over the pond at George Washington’s enslaved needlemeister “Inky” Morton, mentions the buffalo tattooed on Sitting Bull’s “little big horn,” and offers a close-up of Barack Obama’s ornately inscribed torso clad in “tighty whiteys.” “Wow!” comments a World War I Tommy in what can stand for the entire work. “That’s what I call ‘large scale offensive’!” Caveat lector.
The operative word in the title is neither “History” nor “Tattoos” (but there are plenty of the latter on view). (Satire. 14 & up)