Giles Milton: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
I picked this book up originally as something fun and easy to get through, to contrast with the last few (and next few) books on my list, which were either quite dense, deep, depressing, and/or all of the above. Yet to my surprise it was incredibly useful. Milton stitches together 18 sections of 20th and 19th century historical moments, ranging from tales of surviving Kamikaze pilots to Victorian murder histories and the rise and fall of Sir Osman of Hyderabad. The book was of course amusing and often unserious, but it to me showed something often absent in other books I’ve read — an appreciation and celebration of the aberrations and accidents of times past that help us better color the broader sweeps of history.