One-Night Stands with American History
Richard Shenkman & Kurt Reiger
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One-Night Stands with American History: Odd, Amusing, and Little-Known Incidents* online

One-Night Stands with American History: Odd, Amusing, and Little-Known Incidents
Richard Shenkman & Kurt Reiger
322 pages
August 2003
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The first delightful quote in this volume is from H.L. Mencken: “Puritanism: ‘The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.’”

And from there, One-Night Stands with American History takes off. It gallops through U.S. history with odd, delightful facts like:

  • The first income tax in the country passed in 1643 in New Plymouth, MA
  • Women in colonial New England often married in the nude or in their underwear so the husband “would not be responsible for her prenuptial debts”;
  • Hookers got their name originally from the Dutch seaport town of Hook, which was famous for its streetwalkers. Later, during the Civil War in Washington, DC, they were known as “Hooker’s Division” when a Union soldier Joe Hooker knew so many of them so well;
  • Supreme Court Justice John Marshall’s last words were, “Good-by, I am sorry to have kept you all waiting so long”;

Authors Richard Shenkman and Kurt Reiger often cite sources; this will soothe skeptics and allow those fascinated by these intriguing tidbits to pursue them further. This is a book to dip into and savor, and a good book to skim before attending a large social function – there are plenty of ice breakers to start conversation. It’s also an excellent gift for students and history buffs alike.

© 2003 by Devon Ellington for Curled Up With a Good Book

Also by Rick Shenkman:

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