ho was Mario Puzo's model for the Don Corleone character in The Godfather? Was it Joseph "Joe Bananas" Bonanno? The infamous Salvatore Maranzano? No . . . it was Puzo's mother! Senator Joseph McCarthy was responsible for the infamous "Hollywood Blacklist," right? Well, actually . . . no, he had nothing to do with it.
Perfect for the cocktail party pundit or trivia buff, the quirky tidbits in The Awful Truths turn history, culture, sports, and entertainment upside down. The book examines some of our culture's oldest, most popular myths, and tells the fascinating, hilarious, and shocking stories behind what really happened, accompanied by funny illustrations that bring the players to life. Each truth is supported with ironclad evidence that skillfully explains how and where our misconceptions originated. Sometimes the truth hurts—but with The Awful Truths, it doesn't have to.
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About the Author
Brian Thomsen is the author of several books and an editor of fifteen anthologies and collections, including You Did What? He is also the author of numerous articles, ranging in topic from history to media tie-ins to religion.
Read an Excerpt
The Awful TruthsFamous Myths, Hilariously Debunked
By Brian Thomsen
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Brian Thomsen
All right reserved.
Saint Patrick wasn't even born in Ireland
He is the most famous Irishman of all time.
What would a March 17 parade be without his image, a Dublin bishop holding betwixt the fingers of one hand a shamrock, and in the other hand a crosier befitting his office, with the remnants of an escaping serpent crushed beneath his sandaled foot?
Saint Patrick is the image of all that is Irish, the seminal Irish Catholic, and the Uncle Sam/John Bull of the Irish nationalist movement that inspired countless rebels to resist Anglo-Protestant domination of the Emerald Isle.
The only problem with this icon:
Saint Patrick was not born in Ireland.
Worse yet, he was English by birth.
This patron saint of Ireland--born 389, died 461--this most famous of all Irishmen (let alone Irish saints) was actually born in Britain, the son of a Roman official named Calpurnius. As the story goes, he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in County Mayo (Ireland), where he endured the yoke of oppression for six years before finally escaping back to Scotland and entering monastic life. Moving up through the ranks of the British church, he was eventually ordained a missionarybishop to Ireland, where he preached conversion in the northern and western parts of the Emerald Isle.
Much of what we know of him is derived from two works he authored: The Confessions and Letter to Coroticus. The stories of his divine dream visitations, his banishment of the snakes, and his use of the shamrock to illustrate the concept of the holy trinity are unfortunately all apocryphal.
Setting aside the curious fairy tale of how he allegedly cast out all of the snakes from Ireland, the fact that his claim to fame lies in the success of his mission to bring Christianity to Ireland is somewhat ironic, given the role that religion, specifically the schism in Christian sects, has played in the ongoing crucible of pain and oppression that has tortured the Irish for so many years.
Far from being the poster boy of Irish unity, he is rather an icon of that which divides Ireland from its role as an integral part of Great Britain.
He did not foster rebellion nor did he deny his ancestral legacy, and he was every bit as Irish as Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley and the legendary Irish tenor Dennis Day (neither of whom were born on the Emerald Isle).
'Tis a shame that the Irish elevated one of the interlopers as their patron saint.
Surely someone homegrown from the Irish sod would have been a better choice to lead the parade and buy the first round on St. Patty's Day.
Excerpted from The Awful Truths by Brian Thomsen Copyright © 2006 by Brian Thomsen. Excerpted by permission.
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