Kirkus Reviews is the industry bible for bookstore buyers, librarians, and ordinary readers alike. Now Popdose joins the Kirkus Book Bloggers Network to explore the best — and sometimes the worst — in pop-culture and celebrity books.

This week, things get meta, as we dish on the dish of the dirtiest dirt of the past 100 years…

Cover to SCANDALOUS!, by Hallie FrydScandal is a sort of cultural currency, grounding narratives to their place and time. Those contemporary concerns — whether significant or petty in the grand scheme of things — are the backdrop against which our human dramas play out, and the texture that marks the date of a literary work. You can read Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and grasp intuitively its themes of sexual deception, class anxiety, and the uncertainties of memory; you’ll need footnotes, though, to get you up speed on the Dreyfus Affair that so engages and polarizes the many characters.

Now Hallie Fryd has turned those footnotes into a book. Scandalous! 50 Shocking Events You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends) is a slick, informative rundown of 100 years of bad behavior — sort of ”A People’s History of the 20th Century: The Juicy Bits.” It’s an extended version of that curious staple of Web journalism, the listicle — the kind of thing you might find in the pages of mental_floss, the successor to populist reference works like An Incomplete Education and The Book of Lists. And like those earlier works, Scandalous! should be irresistible to its target young adult audience — as irresistible as scandal itself.

Scandalous! covers fifty key events, from 1906 onwards, in its parade of human indignity and shame. For each entry we’re treated to a once-sentence strapline, a two-page write-up of the scandal in question, quotes from the principals, a couple of paragraphs on the aftermath, and sidebars that aim to place the events in a sociological context. It’s a bathroom book, in short, designed to be read piecemeal and in brief sittings.

Some of these scandals will be familiar to most grown-ups, and even most teenagers — the Clinton impeachment, Watergate, and the Clarence Thomas hearings are all present, and will likely send high-schoolers back to their U.S. History textbooks to learn more. Others are more obscure, but still highly relevant: We’ve all heard a lot about Ponzi schemes in the last few years, but Scandalous! will, for many readers young and old, be their first introduction to Charles Ponzi himself.

 Read the rest of this article at Kirkus Reviews!

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About the Author

Jack Feerick

Critic at Large

Jack Feerick — editor, proofreader, freelance know-it-all, and three-time Jeopardy! champion — lives with his family somewhere in upstate New York, where he plays in a rock 'n' roll band and occasionally runs his mouth on local radio. You can listen to more of his work on Soundcloud, if you like.

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