REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes—From Cleopatra to Camus

I received this book for free from Book Tour, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes—From Cleopatra to CamusHistorical Heartthrobs by Hallie Fryd, Kelly Murphy
Published: Zest Books (2014), Hardcover, 224pg
Source: Book Tour, Publisher
Genres: Biography, History, Non-Fiction

History comes alive in Historical Heartthrobs, especially when reading it causes you stop and consider the likes of Eva Peron, Lord Byron and Ernest Hemingway as potential members of your dating pool. Some items for consideration: Nikola Tesla was a brilliant inventor who made Victorians swoon, but he seems incapable of swooning back. Che Guevara had the smoldering good looks, but would he only look out for himself in a relationship? And what about Nelly Bly? Was it legal to look that good in 1884? Historical Heartthrobs includes both men and women from a wide range of countries, ethnicities, and historical epochs. Some are artists, some are scientists, and many are political or military leaders, but all have had a lasting impact on human life—and a sizable impact on their admirers as well.

The only thing I love more than history is the people who lived it! And I especially love books who go beyond what you’d expect from a history book. Like a quirky who’s who of hotness, Historical Heartthrobs has a ton of interesting people in it. It starts with Cleopatra and ends with Benazir Bhutto, and between those two are some amazing mini-biographies.

There’s a good mix of people here, both good and bad. I did question the choice of including people like John Wilkes Booth, because, uh, I don’t find assassins hot? But it fits with the quirkiness of the book as a whole, and it was very refreshing to have other people than your standard “important historical peoples we should all admire” kind of thing you usually find in teen history books. And it never actually said you should want to date the nastier folks in here; in fact, all the worst people got low ratings on their hotness scale. So yay for that!

Historical Heartthrobs_Zest Books_Albert CamusSpeaking of hotness scales: I particularly loved how someone’s “hotness” went beyond their physical looks, especially since most of these people are not actually what we’d consider to be hot based on today’s beauty standards. For example, mustaches are nowadays only good when they’re ironic. A good 3/4ths of the historical heartthrob dudes have face fuzz; I laughed quite a few times whenever the authors said huge walrus mustaches were hot.

Anyway, despite the romantic theme of the book, the emphasis is actually on the historical heartthrob’s achievements, their legacy beyond just being pretty. There are scientists, social activists, revolutionaries, queens and kings and even a few cowboys! And their biographies go beyond just “this dude was important because he was,” with a good mix of personal info and larger-scale impact. It makes me want to read a TON of biographies now– particularly about Annie Oakley and Nellie Bly, my two favorite historical heartthrobs!

It’s super fun the way each mini-bio is organized, too: there’s the main text with all the important stuff, and then there’s little sidebar boxes with especially interesting tidbits. And there’s plenty of pictures and illustrations, and it all feels like it was put together by hand. Almost scrapbookish!

Definitely recommended for people who like their history books quirky and fun (a la Mental Floss magazine). It’d be an excellent starting-off point for deeper historical research, too! (Like I said, I am definitely picking up a few biographies the next time I’m at the library.) For sure I would have enjoyed reading Historical Heartthrobs as a teen, but I very much enjoyed it as an adult as well. Hot people and history for everyone! Yay!

Read: January 25-27, 2014

Be sure to visit the other stops on the Historical Heartthrobs blog tour, running from now through February 14th!

Author Kelly Murphy wrote about the top 10 historical heartthrobs of Brooklyn over at


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