Common section

Fake History: From Mozart’s Murder to Cleopatra’s Asp

Fake History: From Mozart’s Murder to Cleopatra’s Asp

Fake History is an entertaining romp through the centuries, uncovering the fundamental inaccuracies and misleading parts of our past.

As Napoleon himself once said, 'History is a version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.' Noted down in historical documents, copied and widely repeated, it doesn't take long for a version of the truth to become accepted as fact. But who invents these false accounts in the first place, and why do they gain traction so quickly?

Far from concerning the obscure and insignificant parts of our history, these fundamental inaccuracies and downright lies color the depiction of many of those pivotal characters and events we learned about at school. Cleopatra, Marco Polo, Captain Cook, Joan of Arc; most of us could reel off a fact or two about each. But as this intriguing book reveals, a closer examination of these core parts of our social and political history shows that often all was not as it seemed, and that the agendas of those responsible for recording these events had a huge impact on what was reported and what was covered up.

Perfect for:

  • Fans of quirky historical facts
  • Readers looking for a different, entertaining look at history


Part I. Smoke and Mirrors

Joan of Arc: A French (Flight of) Fancy

Elizabeth Báthory: The Real Countess Dracula

Doctor James Barry: A Necessary Disguise

Phantoms and Face Paint: The Western Myth of the Black-clad Ninja

Pope Joan: A Woman on the Fisherman’s Throne

Tokyo Rose: The Woman Who Never Was

Robin Hood: Fact or Folklore?

Part II. Voyages of Discovery

The Book of Marvels: Marco Polo’s Chinese Whispers

America: Who Got There First?

Cooking Up a Lie: Who Really Discovered Australia?

Man and Myth: Bligh’s Mutiny on the Bounty

Ghost Ship: The Mysteriously Abandoned Mary Celeste

Walking Without Legs: The Monoliths of Easter Island

Part III. Murder Most Foul

Cleopatra’s Cobra: The Death of the Last Queen of Egypt

Syphilis or Salieri: Mozart’s Killer

The Peasant Who Knew Too Much: The Death of Rasputin

The Body in the Basement: The Mistrial of Dr Crippen

Abandoned to Their Fate: Romanovs and Revolution

The Dreyfus Affair: The Origins of the Tour de France

Part IV. Riddles of Ritual and Religion

The Great Pyramid Mystery: The Who, Why and How

The Spanish Inquisition: The Black Legend

Raising the Roof: The Many Incarnations of Stonehenge

Part V. Conflict and Catastrophe

The Black Hole of Calcutta: A Lie Built on Greed

Invasions of the Spanish Conquistadors: The Incas and the Irish

The Light Brigade: A Charged-Up Family Feud

What Lit the Great Fire of Chicago: Cow or Comet?

Suicide by Proxy: The Death of General Gordon

The Bombing of Guernica: Capturing the Falling Soldier

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!