Title THE GREAT PRETENDERS: THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND FAMOUS HISTORICAL MYSTERIES
Book Condition Fine/Fine
Edition 1st Edition
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company 2004
0393019691 / 9780393019698
Seller ID RWARE0000012400
A highly collectible first edition/printing, protected in a new brodart wra pper. In nineteenth-century Russia, many people believed that a certain Siberian hermit was really the late Tsar Alexander I. After the French Revolution, several men gained followings by claiming to be the surviving son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Bondeson, a British rheumatologist with an engaging sideline in the more sensational byways of history, sifts evidence with a keen understanding of the difficulty of establishing truth: "Kings and queens are mere mortals, but it is difficult to kill off a good story." DNA testing has felled a few hypotheses, but mysteries persist, in part, Bondeson believes, because they are bound up with larger questions of national identity. He also writes about the not-so-great pretenders: the long-lost relatives who show up just in time to contest the family fortune. These trials provided high drama in Victorian England, reaching a peak of silliness when one witness testified that Charles Dickens, between books, acted as a pimp for the eccentric Duke of Portland.