Read Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked by Mary Miley Theobald Online


Every day stories from American history that are not true are repeated in museums and classrooms across the country. Some are outright fabrications; others contain a kernel of truth that has been embellished over the years. Collaborating with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Mary Miley Theobald has uncovered the truth behind many widely repeated myth-understandings inEvery day stories from American history that are not true are repeated in museums and classrooms across the country. Some are outright fabrications; others contain a kernel of truth that has been embellished over the years. Collaborating with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Mary Miley Theobald has uncovered the truth behind many widely repeated myth-understandings in our history in Death by Petticoat including:* Hat makers really were driven mad. They were poisoned by the mercury used in making hats from furs. Their symptoms included hallucinations, tremors, and twitching, which looked like insanity to people of the 17th and 18th centuries--and the phrase "mad as a hatter" came about.* The idea that portrait painters gave discounts if their subjects posed with one hand inside the vest (so they didn't have to paint fingers and leading to the saying that something "costs an arm and a leg") is strictly myth. It isn't likely that Napoleon, King George III, or George Washington were concerned about getting a discount from their portrait painters.- - Pregnant women secluded themselves indoors, uneven stairs were made to trip up burglars, people bathed once a year, women had tiny waists, apprenticeships lasted seven years--Death by Petticoat reveals the truth about these hysterical historical myth-understandings....

Title : Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781449418533
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 144 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked Reviews

  • Kristie
    2019-03-17 09:37

    Interesting information, though I'm not sure where some of it came from. I hadn't heard most of the myths before, so it was interesting to see the myths that are believed as well as the true information.

  • Amanda
    2019-03-10 08:17

    This history book has assembled the most often-repeated myths of US History and one-by-one debunks them.Short (only 63 myths). No citations (except for images). A complete disappointment from this history buff's point of view. The cover is cute though.Check out my full review (Link will be live on June 10, 2012).Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  • Birgit
    2019-03-01 02:40

    Were long skirts and petticoats likely to catch fire thus being a leading cause of death in woman of Colonial America? In Death By Petticoat Mary Riley Theobald sets out to expose historical myths which are apparently still widely believed in today.Presenting a wild collection of myths - all set in Colonial up to Victorian times on the North American continent - it was interesting to see how some of them are also familiar in European context while others have been completely new to me. While a quick and light read can be like a sweet treat every now and then, unfortunately this compilation lacks when it comes to really explaining where certain myths originate. Each of the myths is presented in a very brief format, often no more than a paragraph - often accompanied by a photo or illustration - consequently lacking details that would have been of interest, and even more so, neglecting thorough explanations in many cases. Even though the content of this book can be seen as history fun facts I would have expected a bit more substance.I'd also like to add that as fascinating as some of the myths here are, quite a number made me wonder where on Earth the author dug them out as they are utterly ridiculous (on second thought, maybe I'm just too well educated). History buffs beware - this isn't the book for you!In short: Nice little book for museum shops!

  • Rebecca Reid
    2019-02-26 06:28

    I greatly enjoy American history so I was excited to read Mary Theobald’s Death By Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked (Andrews McNeel Publishing, June 2012). I ended up leaving it a bit disappointed because of the lack of depth behind the book. It was an amusing and quick read, and I did learn some trivial facts from American history, but because I had expected a more detailed examination of myths and reality, I was disappointed in the superficiality of Ms Theobald’s offering.Note: I read a digital review copy from the publisher for review consideration.More on my blog

  • Ripley
    2019-03-01 06:23

    Death by Petticoat is a collection of myths that people have been led to believe over the years about our colonial ancestors. These myths, though one time thought true, have since been proven wrong. This book was put together with the help of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Its not categorized in subject matter or chapter, but rather, numbered by myth. There are 62 different ones. Some of them I remember learning, while some I thought were fairly obscure and may have only been known by history buffs. This book even goes so far as to explain where these myths may have originated. I really enjoyed reading Death by Petticoat. It was a fairly quick read, only taking about an hour. It had some great photography to accompany each myth. I give this a 5 out of 5. Its a great little trivia book that you can use to impress your history loving friends. I definitely recommend it.

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-20 08:26

    I had a conversation recently with a living history interpreter who insisted that childbirth and burns from cooking accidents were the leading causes of death for women in the American colonies. It brought me back to this book, which is a fun collection of such "docent lore". No, it is not an academic text or a peer reviewed article with meticulously cited sources. And I also wish it could have been longer. But it hits the spot for a fun compilation of the misinformation repeated by some tour guides and visitors to historic places. I can think of a few more pieces of such lore that could be addressed in a sequel!

  • Lis Carey
    2019-03-01 08:35

    This little book covers a collection of popular, oft-repeated myths of American history, both the completely fabricated and those with a grain of truth vastly over-inflated to make a better story.The title refers to the claim that long skirts and petticoats were so likely to catch fire that "death by petticoat fire" was the second leading cause of death for colonial American women, with only childbirth beating it out. In fact the leading cause of death for colonial American women was disease--and the cottons, wools, and linens that made up colonial era clothing were a lot less flammable than the polyesters, rayons, and nylons commonly found in modern clothing.Overall, this is a brisk and sensible book with a sense of humor and an understanding of how and why "myths" catch on and are hard to dislodge. This includes the discussion of the myth of houses being burned down to collect the "valuable" nails used to build them. In fact, nails weren't all that valuable, and no one burned down substantial houses just to get the nails. The first settlers at Jamestown, though, were mostly unattached young men who came to make a quick fortune and go home. They didn't build substantial homes; they built shacks. When they realized they'd be staying, these shacks were easier to burn down than tear down--and once burned down, why not collect the nails? They weren't especially valuable, but they weren't worthless, and why waste them?In some cases, though, there seems to be a failure to think things through. In the discussion of ice cream, Theobald concludes, for reasons she doesn't really explain, that the Chinese "probably" invented ice cream. The problem with this is that the Chinese don't consume dairy products. Most Chinese, like most adults in areas that have been civilized for a long time, don't produce the enzyme necessary to digest dairy products. It's not likely they invented ice cream. Europeans and their descendants in the Americas are not the only possible candidates, but would have to be serious contenders. It's a small point, but it does cause me to wonder a bit about some of her myth explanations that I don't know enough about to make my own judgment.Still, it's an interesting and entertaining read, as well as a quick one. This could be a fun title to bring along when taking the children to visit historical American sites.I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

  • Sharon Tyler
    2019-03-04 07:18

    Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked by Mary Miley Theobald, with the support of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, is schedule for release on June 5 2012. This book explores sixty-three myths about Colonial America that are often repeated in schools, trivia games, and even historical homes or museum. The truth of the myth, how it might have come about, and why it is still repeated is given for each. There are also full color photographs to illustrate some of the myths. Some of the myths mentioned include women dying because of petticoats catching on fire, taxes of closets and furniture dictating how people kept their clothes, and the worth of nails. This is a quick and fun look at the myths and truths about American life in the Colonial era. Death by Petticoat is short and sweet. While each of the myths mentioned are well researched, there is not much depth to the discussion. Each myth description and debunking is an around a page long, some not even a full-page. Some of the myths mentioned are ones that I had never heard, much less believed, while others I already knew the story behind. I think some further dissection and information on the time would have made the concept much more interesting and informative.Death by Petticoat is a fun book for trivia lovers or for using in a classroom prior to visiting a historic location. However, this is not for serious history buffs. It is a fun book, a quick and interesting read for all ages. I think it would be perfect for selling museum gift shops. It would be opportune for short reading intervals, for waiting in the car or bathroom reading.

  • Dawn
    2019-03-08 09:31

    "Death by Petticoat" is a cute, rather fluffy piece with all of the serious, scholarly weight of the Reader's Digest. And that's why it works. Theobald writes in the kind of voice you expect to hear over a kitchen table, amused with just a touch of sarcasm. Clearly enjoying her task of putting paid to some of the sillier legends that pepper American history, she goes after some of the things I'm sure tour guides and curators roll their eyes at on a regular basis. Closet taxes. Quilt codes. The jettisoning of excess rib bone. Some Ive never heard of too, which is fun. And at least once I had the smug enjoyment of thinking... Really? Someone though that? That's so SILLY!"Having been completed with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Im left with the impression that this is mostly a little something they put together to put up in the gift shop. That doesn't devalue it, but it just screams tourist sales. Sill, it's a cut above most nonsense of the sort in that it's actually been researched (there's a bibliography) and isnt boring as wood lice. My advice? If you see it, buy it to support the Foundation, and keep it as a bathroom reader.

  • Elizabeth Kennedy
    2019-03-01 08:31

    While this book includes a variety of myths anyone studying American History will have read or heard, I kept coming back to the question of "Where did this information come from?". There is no bibliography, just a list of people the author says helped her. Not knowing these people, I am left to wonder if the author's debunking of the myth is in fact just adding a layer to the myth. To me, if I had read this while researching for a scholarly paper or while gathering info for an article, I wouldn't even be able to cite it in my own work. Now, while saying that, I do believe some of what Mary Theobald has to say, and it must be incredibly frustrating as a docent when people ask the same questions that perpetuate the myth. I also read the entire thing in one sitting, which actually does not give me confidence in the included material.

  • Jerelyn
    2019-02-22 09:29

    I love books like this, fun facts that no doubt will prove useful at some point. It was very well done, and really very informative. I couldn't believe how many of these myths I thought were fact. If your interested in early American history the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation really is the place to go for such information and it was entertaining. Thanks to Net Galley and to the publishers for my review copy.

  • Nancy
    2019-03-17 02:43

    Stories from American History that are not true are repeated in museums and classrooms. This book debunks many myths and explains how they may have come about.It was a quick 1 day read and very interesting.

  • Maureen M Carlson
    2019-02-26 08:45

    Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked by Mary Miley Theobald is an American Historical book full of many historical myths told around the US in museums, historical books, and classrooms. This book, as the title states, debunks those myths, telling how they were or may have started, or even just stretched with a bit of truth, then giving the facts at the end of each myth.Everybody has heard that the second most common reason for death for Colonial women, just under childbirth, was burning to death from a petticoat that caught fire, haven’t they (Myth #1)? Or that the reason so many Colonial women used fire screens was to protect their wax makeup from melting off (Myth #4)? Considering those are both incorrect, it is a shame that so many people seem to not only believe those myths, but that they continue to be told in history books, classrooms, and museums alike all around the country! The truth is that petticoats, being made of wool, cotton, and linen, burned very slowly, even if they did catch fire, allowing the women to stop the incident before it spread too far. The facts behind women’s makeup melting is that Colonial women, in reality, hardly wore any makeup at all. If they did decide to wear makeup, women had to make it themselves using various ingredients. Not one of those ingredients was wax. The actual purpose for the firescreen, which wasn’t even a common household item, was to shield one from direct heat. Now that makes perfect sense, wouldn’t you think?Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked by Mary Miley Theobald holds quite a few of these little myths, tall tales, and stretched truths in her little book. Sixty-three of them, to be exact. It is a short, easy read and is quite informative. I admire the work and research that Theobald has put in to debunking so many tidbits that happened to get twisted and made up throughout the years. It is astonishing to me how much is taught as our history that isn’t even true! One example in this book that really surprised me as being a fabrication of time is Myth #59: “Quilt designs were really secret codes meant to assist escaping slaves through the Underground Railroad”. According to Theobald, this myth began in the 1990’s and no one knows why. Since then, many have worked together to debunk it without much success, sadly, as it is still being taught. The book states that “there is no evidence or example of coded quilts” (117). I grew up with this story in elementary history classes and seeing it on TV shows quite often, so couldn’t believe when I saw it in this book. It is a nice story that made me feel good, which is one of the reasons it has stuck around. People like a good story that is either exciting or gives you warm fuzzies. But if it is false, no matter how it makes one feel, it should not be spread. That is how Theobald feels as well, and why she wrote this book and does the research that she does.Death by Petticoat is an enjoyable book, for the most part. However, I am not a fan of Theobald’s writing style in this particular book. It seemed far too casual. She wrote it with her own sense of cheesy humor that I felt made her sound as if she was trying too hard to seem relatable. Many of these so-called myths within the book I have never even heard of myself. Reading through the stories, I found that I have actually been taught the truth or had common sense enough to realize the facts myself, as some of the myths seemed too farfetched for anyone to believe. That being said, there were a number of good things that I did learn, and it is an interesting book. It is worth checking out if you want something quick and interesting to read. The contents might even surprise you!(Review written for the Frontier Homestead State Park blog for my internship https://homesteadtelegraph.wordpress....Book Review will be posted in the blog May 25, 2017)

  • Tess
    2019-02-27 05:46

    Fun and surprising. I had the chilling feeling of having heard many of these myths repeated as fact at various different house tours around Virginia, and some pretty recently. One of them I actually heard at Colonial Williamsburg (that shops used pictures on their signs because many people couldn't read), albeit a decade or so ago. Some I had to sheepishly admit I had assumed were true, they're so oft-repeated by tour guides (that fear of fire caused kitchens to be constructed separately from the main houses, and that fire screens were to prevent a woman's makeup from melting). So if you want to learn something and set a new (healthy!) question-everything mantra for when you go on future history tours, I'd recommend this book. Only thing lacking is, as others have noted, that no sources are cited (at least in this print version I've got).

  • Abby
    2019-02-25 02:18

    Finally, a full collection of facts for myth-busting history buffs. It's great to see so many in the same place, almost like a reference guide for when one hears trite inaccuracies at historic sites or museums. A bit ironically, this book set on getting the facts straight does not cite sources. One excuse is that many of these myths are busted from lack of any evidence, not simply evidence against. That can be very hard to cite, so I understand. The reader just has to take this book with a grain of salt.

  • Jean
    2019-03-01 08:16

    This was a fine book for an enjoyable hour of reading, but I wish there was more information and citation given. I certainly would not consider any of these myths debunked after reading this book alone. Great for a quick, shallow read that may lead to more research into some of these myths, but it certainly didn’t blow me away.

  • Justinian
    2019-03-01 08:42

    2013-08 - Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked. Mary Theobald (Author). 2012. 144 Pages.Amusing and informative. How myths and legends at historical sites start and carry on. Many of the myths we here and accept … yea … they are myths. As a tour guide at a historic site I found it fun.

  • Lauren
    2019-03-07 02:24

    This is a weird little volume. More appropriate for children and sadly lacking in context or details. Seems like something you'd pick up in a historical society gift shop to beat back the boredom of a long bus ride...assuming it's also 1993 and there's no one to text.

  • Sherry
    2019-03-09 06:29

    Fun read about American history!

  • Sara
    2019-03-10 08:17

    This book was extremely interesting, however it was such a quick read, which is why I spaced it out. I wish there was more myths and maybe more references to sources. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and see myself reading it several more times. The majority of these myths seemed like no-brainers to me, but there were some that surprised me, like the quilt myths. Anyway, I recommend it to anyone in need of a quick read, or anyone who loves history, especially American history.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-09 07:27

    This is a nice volume debunking some of the most commonly-repeated history myths. How often have you heard that people didn't bathe regularly until the 20th century? Somehow we believe people changed so drastically that they suddenly starting noticing they were dirty and smelled bad. In fact people have always bathed, or at least, washed, but they didn't always have bathtubs nor ready access to running water, especially not hot running water. I mean, men were generally clean-shaven in the 18th century, and that does entail washing the face, so it's just a common-sense thing. People washed, and if they had hot water at the tap the way we do, they probably would have bathed just as much as we do today.Most of these myths are about colonial America, so I was a little disappointed that some of the more longstanding ones aren't included, for example, that the U.S. government gave smallpox-infected blankets to the Native Americans. They didn't, although they were certainly horrible to them in many other ways. There are plenty of European myths that I wish had been included, such as that doctors treated "hysterical" women with vibrators to induce orgasm, that Ruskin was afraid of his wife's pubic hair, that Catherine the Great was killed having sex with a horse, that cats and dogs slept inside thatched roofs, or that Lewis Carroll was a pedophile. I suppose that would be a whole other book, though. Each myth is nicely illustrated with photos or archival drawings, and the author neatly dismisses such ridiculous ideas as Colonial Americans were considerably smaller than modern people (they weren't, although people today are taller than they were in the 1920s), or that people slept sitting up, or whitened their faces with arsenic, and many other false statements about our predecessors. Occasionally she finds a grain of truth, such as in the tale about wigs being baked in bread. Turns out that hair for wigs was dried by being wrapped in flour paste and baked in an oven, so there is some truth to the legend. Mostly, this book outlines a lot of hokum that people believe, partly because it's more interesting than the truth, and partly because we love to feel superior to our ancestors.

  • Andrea Dubnick
    2019-03-01 04:43

    This one comes out of Colonial Williamsburg, so it has a decidedly 17th- and 18th-century slant. But so many of the myths pertain to earlier centuries as well as the 19th (and later, I suppose; I am not involved in historical interpretation later than about 1910). The "Petticoat Death" of the title refers to the conviction by many folks (myself included, at least before I read this book) that the second-commonest cause of death in historical women resulted from long skirts catching fire from outdoor cookfires and indoor hearths. My source always added that it was infection from severe burns that really did in those historical females. Perhaps this one originated in the 1970s (ancient history to some, I know) when museums experimented with newer, cheaper, synthetic fabrics for interpreters' clothing. These fabrics DO burn quickly and nastily (melting stickily to flesh rather than falling away), but natural fabrics -- wool, cotton, linen -- which would have been available historically tend to smolder rather than burst into flame. Then there's that old favorite: People Didn't Bathe, or They Only Bathed Once a Year. Granted, most people in Europe (and America) didn't take warm tub-baths inside very often, since heating water on a stove or over a fire kettle by kettle is a very expensive proposition, in fuel and time. But even before indoor plumbing, of course people washed themselves: being clean is a good feeling, and historical people wanted to feel good, just as we do. Perhaps they were more tolerant of body odors than modern Americans, but everybody always smelled like woodsmoke all the time anyway, and there have been perfume products throughout most of history. And 61 more myths, some of them even sillier than these! This book will make an excellent addition to your Throne-Room Collection, as the chapters (each with a lovely photograph from Colonial Williamsburg) are one page long.

  • Donna Brown
    2019-02-25 03:24

    I live with - am married to - a history buff, so of course a little of it rubs off. That said, I've always been pretty interested in history myself, especially some of the everyday details, so Death by Petticoat was an exciting book choice for me. I loved the idea of debunking some of the myths, such as petticoats catching fire being a major cause of death!The premise of the book is simple: it examines a myth and how it came about and quickly approves or debunks it, explaining why it was or wasn't true or how it has been exaggerated etc.As a title it is certainly entertaining. We've heard so many of these stories, day in, day out, that often we don't even think to question them any more. It's certainly thought provoking to be able to see the stories from a new angle.The one problem I have with the book is its length. There's no doubt at all that a vast amount of work and research must have gone into putting together a title like this. However, for me, this is the kind of book I would like to have hours and hours of pleasure from or give as a gift to someone for them to enjoy dipping into again and again. I just don't feel its current length allows for that.I've deliberated hard about the score to give this book but based solely on the quality of the existing content, I do feel it deserves a four and not the three I was considering due to its length. It's well presented and well researched and will certainly appeal to history lovers. Just don't expect more than a few short hours of reading - but there's plenty in there to enjoy during that time.This review was originally published on Book Bags and Cat Naps. I received a copy in exchange for my fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation and all reviews are my own.

  • Bibliotropic
    2019-03-17 03:21

    I'm always interested in historical trivia, so this book seemed right up my alley. It was simple, quick to read, and more than striving to explain the truth behind some of the myths, it also opened my eyes to some of the more ridiculous things that people actually believe about not just Colonial America, but North American history in general.This isn't the sort of book that a hardcore historian might want on their shevles, though. It breezes through things, relying more on dispelling eneral myths in the manner of a trivia book than really seeking to go into depth about where most of the myths came from and what life was really like at the time. It tells the facts briefly and with a sense of sarcastic humour, but leaves further research to the reader's discretion.The downside to this approach is that most people who are interested in history will already know the truth behind most of the myths mentioned, and those who aren't interested in history probably won't pick up the book to begin with. Which is a shame, really, since books like this are actually decent ways to learn a little without getting truly invested in the material. You read, you learn, you move on. But getting this book into the hands of the people who need it the most is usually a difficult task. Not impossible, but difficult.Nevertheless, in reading death by Petticoat I did learn a thing or two, so I can't and won't consider it an evening wasted. This is the kind of book you can get through in an evening, after all. It was worth reading even just for the discussion it generated between my roommate and I. But mostly, I would recommend it to history enthusiasts who want to have a good chuckle at some of the more silly things that people believe about their history.

  • Bookworm1858
    2019-03-11 09:22

    I love the idea for this book-it is right up my alley as a history major who specialized in US history. I love collections of truths and myths that break them down in easy-to-read ways and this looked like the perfect quick read for me.And it was a quick read. Each entry is only about one page and includes a picture to further illustrate the point. The writing was easy to read and due to the shortness, you can very quickly read this book. I think it would be fun to pick it up and read an entry or two at a time. It looks like a nice book to support The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and its missions of preservation and education.However I ended up being disappointed on a few counts. First the focus is mostly on colonial times (which is forecast by the collaboration with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation but which I didn't notice). I thought it would cover a longer period of time and be more mixed. But most of the myths come from colonial times with just a few from later days. Second was the myths themselves, most of which I had never even heard of-two separate mentions of room taxes as a for example. I guess these are questions that tourists ask when visiting Colonial Williamsburg, which makes me very worried for our school system if in fact American-educated people are thinking these things are true. My expectations were that I would have at least heard of the myths even if I knew they were false from my more specialized studying.Overall: Good for some light reading but not recommended for history scholars.

  • Jillian
    2019-03-20 10:25

    { I received this as an ebook from NetGalley. Review originally posted to my blog, PidginPea's Book Nook. }Death by Petticoat is a collection of fun, brief explanations of historical myths. Each myth is covered in a few paragraphs, making for a sufficient explanation, but I wouldn't have minded a little more depth. Some of the explanations ended a little abruptly, leaving me wishing there was more to it. But the short style makes it perfect for picking up here and there whenever you have a moment: before bed, in a waiting room, over breakfast, etc.I would recommend this book to history lovers, especially those looking for an interesting, quick read. Serious history buffs may already be familiar with the truths behind the myths, but for the average person with an interest in history, this would probably expand upon their knowledge of the common myths and introduce them to some new ones too. (It did for me!) The ebook version that I read didn't include the photos that the text mentions, but I'm looking forward to picking up a paperback copy when it's released to see how the photos complement the myths.

  • Kerry
    2019-02-28 03:38

    This is not the type of book that you can sit down and become thoroughly engrossed in, nor would any adult want to. Only one page is dedicated to each myth, occasionally using only 4-5 sentences in order to debunk the popular tales. Theobold is not one to go into detail or produce thorough explanations. The reader is simply made aware of a myth and immediately told "Nope, not true." There is not even a list of references in this book or citations concerning where Theobold pulled her information from. While she frequently cites "historians" who back up her claims, their names and studies are rarely shared. Anyone who is seeking further information will be left to their own devices.Yet even considering the problems that it possesses, this book would be ideal for use in an elementary or middle school classroom. Students would be able to flip through the pages for a few minutes at a time, marveling at the full color photos and choosing to read a few paragraphs if they are interested in the subject matter. Small bits and pieces could even be pulled into larger lessons around historical research and essay writing. It should be used as a tool to spark interest, not as a reference to provide information. Students will likely find it to be fun, funny, and short enough to endure.

  • Ama
    2019-03-10 04:45

    This is one of the worst books on a historical subject I have ever read. Supposedly Ms. Theobald has an advanced degree in American history yet somehow never learned how to cite her sources. She mentions "reports" and "studies" many times throughout the book but never actually lists them. How can a reader know if this is more than just more anecdotes or myths without some indication as to where she got her information from.I would have given this book more than one star because some of it was amusing, but she actually printed bad history herself! In the myth about mortgage buttons, she states that banks did not exist in the 17th and 18th centuries. After I read that, I wished I could have rated her less than a star. Banks in the West have existed since the end of the 14th century when Giovanni Medici helped create the banking system. Modern banking and bank notes go back to the end of the 17th century. After I read that, I realized that without sources I certainly couldn't believe anything she had written for fear that she herself is publishing historical myths.Very disappointing. Would not recommend this book to anyone.

  • Kah Cherub
    2019-03-13 10:46

    read complete review here: author is highly amusing in her way to expose silly and absurd myths and the truth behind them, but it's too bad there were so little of them and such short explanations. The book made them clearer and easier to comprehend, but in the end they came out sounding a bit trivial, without very much depth into actual history. But I'm not a historian, so I had fun and learned quite a few things.It's a great book for when you need to kill some time or just before going to bed. A very light, funny and informative read.So, if you are wondering if men were shorter back then, if people didn't bathe, if potatoes and tomatoes were considered poisonous by early colonists, if women ate arsenic to lighten their complexions and were not allowed to use the front door of taverns or if cooks used spices to mask the flavor and odors of rotting food, this is your book to read and find out. ;)It will make for some great conversation topics and ice-breakers.*I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

  • Alison
    2019-03-22 07:29

    Death by Petticoat is such a wonderful book, and very easy to read, this is a definite must read and will certainly be something you'll want to keep on your shelf so you can bring it out next time naked ankles or Chers missing ribs are discussed.Mary takes 63 common (and not so common but very interesting) myths from American history and, with great wit, explains the origin and reality of each myth.This is very well researched, and will surely cause a few surprises for most readers, and romance readers and writers will certainly enjoy some of the clarifications to the artistic license the romance genre has been known to take.Each myth is clarified quickly, without huge details about the primary source references, but if you are interested in more details the bibliography at the end is very detailed.This is a really enjoyable and fascinating read, very quick, but will make a great reference.If you haven't read any of the series so far, really, do yourself a favour and start from the beginning, but do yourself a bigger favour, and buy them all at once. I hate waiting. Authors never write fast enough.