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A ripping good read. Fiorillo provides fresh perspective on some of history’s iconic figures—and introduces us to some lesser-known players whose 'illegitimacy' only fueled their ambition to leave their mark on world events. In the words of the immortal Bard of Avon: ‘Now gods, stand up for bastards!’
Combining history with biography, Jure Fiorillo has written Great Bastards of History. Being born out of wedlock has long been a burden to those whose birth was no fault of their own. Throughout history illegitimacy often involved neglect, abandonment, disinheritance, and social exclusion. The usual routes to education, wealth and status were often blocked. Thus, it is come as a surprise to readers that many famous and accomplished persons were, in fact, bastards. They included our own Alexander Hamilton, one of the most brilliant of the Founding Fathers, and Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest men of his age. In
In Great Bastards of History, Juré Fiorillo explores the hardship suffered by fifteen now-famous people who overcame the obstacles imposed on them from birth, and because of their birth, to become hugely successful shapers of nations, art, culture and science…
The personalities that Fiorillo explores are the personalities of fifteen children who in one way or another were cast aside by family or society or both solely because of the nature of their conception and birth. Some will be known to readers, Elizabeth I and others among them. Others may be new to American and European readers, whether because they made their mark in countries little studied by American and European students or because they have been all but forgotten by history. Whether or not readers know these fifteen bastards of history that Fiorello describes, what all will quickly understand is that none of them chose to be born out of wedlock and all suffered in some way because of it. Whether that suffering led to greatness or whether they found greatness despite it, each is a victim of their parents’ passion….Although the condition of having been born out of wedlock may not have the sole determining factor in the development of the fifteen subjects in his book, it does provide a nice unifying theme for the exploration of fifteen unquestionably interesting, and often little explored, historic personalities.
Jure Fiorillo’s Great Bastards of History is about the most famous illegitimate children who went on to achieve greatness. Fiorillo primarily covers famous illegitimate children from England, France, and the United States, with a few from other countries. These figures are discussed in chronological order, beginning with William the Conqueror and ending with Fidel Castro with many interesting persons in between…Fiorillo’s style of writing is easy to follow and understand. She writes clearly and concisely. The amount of information that is given is great considering the limited space for each person.
Illegitimacy may not carry a heavy stigma today, but throughout most of history it was one of the great obstacles to influence and power; it took thick skin and remarkable tenacity to overcome it. Fiorillo masterfully relates the lives, the struggles, and the accomplishments of some of history’s toughest men and women.