Title: Bite Size HistoryBite-Size-History
Author: Hugh Westrup
Pages: 59
Recommended Ages: 10 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

Bite-Size History is a collection of ‘Facts You Won’t Believe!’ about world history. They are presented in bulleted form. Here are a few of the facts.


The Assyrians, who lived in what is now northern Assyria were very hair-conscious. Assyrian beauticians were masters at cutting, curling, oiling, dyeing, and perfuming hair. A stylist who gave a bad haircut could be sentenced to death. [pg. 4]

A woman in ancient Greece counted her age not from birth but from the date of her marriage. [pg. 6]

The ancient Egyptians regarded cats as holy animals. When a pet cat died, it was mummified, and its owners went into mourning and shaved their eyebrows. [pg. 6]

Queen Cleopatra VII (69-30 B.C.) was the last ruler of Egypt before it was conquered by the Romans. She wore a fake beard when she presided over court functions to show that she could be as strong as a man. [pg. 9]

The Gauls of ancient France had a unique long-distance communications system. Long before telephones were invented, farmers shouted the news from one field to the next. An urgent piece of news could travel more than 150 miles in a single day that way. [pg. 9]

Kissing did not become widely accepted in Europe as a sign of affection until about A. D. 500. [pg. 11]

The expression “to give the cold shoulder” means to be unfriendly. It began in the Middle Ages when household guests who had overstayed their welcome were served a shoulder of cold beef. [pg. 14]

In the 13th century, the word “girl” meant any young person, male or female. [pg. 16]

On December 5, 1664, a ship sank off the coast of Wales and the only survivor was a man named Hugh Williams. On the same date in 1785, another ship sank and the sole survivor was also a man named Hugh Williams. On the very same date in 1830, yet another ship sank and the one survivor was a man named – you’ve got  it – Hugh Williams! [pg. 20]

The people of England began using contractions such as can’t, don’t, and won’t in the 17th century. One of those contractions was an’t, which meant “am not” or “are not.” Over the years, an’t gained the letter “I” and became ain’t. [pg. 22]

King Cambyses of Persia won a war against the Egyptian city of Memphis in 525 B.C. by throwing cats over the walls of the city. The ancient Egyptians regarded cats as heavenly creatures, so the people of Memphis were horrified at the sight of cats being used as live cannonballs. They quickly surrendered to the Persians. [pg. 27]

Bees have often been used as weapons of war. King Richard I of England [Richard the Lionhearted (1157-1199)] had his troops hurl beehives at their enemies. [pg. 29]

Bosco, a Labrador retriever, was elected mayor of the small California town of Sunol in 1983. He served as mayor for eleven years until he died in 1994. [pg. 46]

In 1919, a huge iron tank of molasses burst in Boston. Two million gallons of the sticky black liquid roared down the streets, drowning 21 people and injuring 150 others. [pg. 51]

Doctors in ancient India used giant ants to close up wounds made during surgery. Placed side by side along a wound, the ants would clamp the wound shut with their jaws, enabling it to heal. [pg. 54]

Fourteen years before the Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean on a cold April night in 1912, an American writer named Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility. The novel is about a giant cruise ship that hit an iceberg in the Atlantic one cold April night. The name of the cruise ship in the novel is Titan. [pgs. 49-50]


This statement is made in the introduction.

Human beings, scientists tell us, have been on earth for two million years. Most of that time is known as prehistory. Only about 5,000 years ago, humans advanced to the point where they began writing things down in books, diaries, letters, and other documents. The first such scratchings marked the beginning of history. [pg. 1]

Later the author says, “The earliest known histories were written in China sometime before 1000 B.C.” [pg. 54] He has obviously ignored the historical record of the Scriptures.

On page 56, Mr. Westrup says,

Elvis Presley and the Beatles were not history’s first pop music stars. In Mecca, during the 7th century, women idolized beautiful long-haired young men who sang love songs with exotic melodies.” A nice reminder that human nature never changes, but hardly necessary information.

On page 5, Mr. Westrup says

Polygamy is a marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. It was common in many ancient societies. In the Bible, Solomon is said to have had 200 wives.

Now, 1 Kings 11:1-3 says,

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites:
 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

Because Mr. Westrup did not give the correct number of wives, I found myself wondering if the rest of his information was accurate. It was the only piece that I knew to be untrue, but I still wonder.

Conclusion. Not the first history resource I would recommend, but an interesting one.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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