First of all, yes this book is gory, its history for goodness sake and fun history at that. This book is most definitely for kids, unless you have an unusually sensitive child. Parents wake up; sometime around age 7 kids are fascinated by gore. I remember that age vividly as we would all swap stories about the tidbits we'd learned of medieval torture practices or what "ring around the rosy" reeeally means. I was a sheltered kid by the way, I wasn't allowed to see anything rated over G till i was 10 and if i said "dang" i had to apologize for cursing, thus I say to those reviews, which state "not for kids," LIGHTEN UP! If they made a toy guillotine kit for kids every child would want one. Also, learning about our actual past is far more healthy an activity than teaching your child that say that fashion makes up their self-worth. (Clothes used to be considered a "boring gift" by kids and now i hear 5 year olds shunning other five year olds for their lack of designer styles or for being "fat") Kids have always played violent games (and while some video games are excessive this wasn't newly introduced with video games) playing cowboys and indians or war were common games in the past and no one batted an eye. Not to mention the kids who were in actual wars.
This book ups the ante by being educating and encouraging an interest in history WITHOUT glorifying violence. In fact the book emphasizes that we all run the dangers of being like our wicked past, and should learn from our histories and be better people. Why lie to your children about the past? I do not condone violence, nor do I think children should be exposed to graphic elements too early but I do not think this book does either. Ok rant over on to the book itself.
THIS BOOK IS SUCH GREAT FUN!!! So many random facts about so many cultures and time periods and to lighten things up there are the terrible puns and comic drawings. These funny accents keep the book upbeat. I read it cover to cover before I could part with it to send to my relative and promptly more for myself and my friends. It is mostly accurate as well, which is surprising since most of even my high school history books are filled with errors. (History was one of my majors in college) A few of the facts are debated lore and there is a jewish/biblical bit (plagues) thrown in that may offend a the more obsessive atheists. I am biased, but i do believe that history is essential to an understanding of the way our world works today. Even our Internet lines follow traditional trade routes, colonialism shapes world trade and our governments systems are based on so much ancient knowledge. This book does not explain all that but it does encourage kids to get interested and want to learn. As any teacher knows (I've been a teachers aid for many years and a tutor for underprivileged children), you need that hook to turn young minds to educational subject matter. I never understood why adults seemed to take all the interesting bits out of every subject we learn in school. Kids are so naturally programed to want to learn, and yet it seems that the educational system deliberately sabotages the process.
I grew up with facts like these as i read the classics: Shakespeare, Tacitus and other classic histories, the great British romanticist poets, and fairy tales in their original form (reeeeeally gross) and I cant say it did me any harm to my moral development or any real trauma (the Disney movie of Sleeping Beauty, which I watched at a sleepover, scarred me for years however). I am a straight A student who hopes to head into the peace corps (if I'm lucky) or other service occupations if not. My favorite extra curricular activity is rehabilitating injured animals. I did however end up a bit of a nerd.