Canning gathered together several authors, including SF author Charles Eric Maine, to relate true tales of mass murderers,natural disasters and individuals caught up in life threatening situations. Subjects include Genghis Khan, the cannibalistic Beane family of Scotland, Rasputin, the explosion of Krakatoa, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and other disasters. The book starts with an account of Chinese emperor Ch’in Shih Huang Ti who built the great wall of China and ends with the atrocities during the formation of Bangladesh in 1971.
To their credit nothing is presented in a sensationalistic or tabloid manner. Most accounts are padded with guessed dialogue while others are narrative accounts. Some of them are dry but most have their information in good story form. If you’re looking for the dark side of human nature and nature itself and facts about the dark side of history then check this book out.
Some of the better accounts include:
“I’ll Cut Thee Into Collops” – Michael and Mollie Hardwick – The story of the evil Walter Calverley in 1604.
“The People Eaters” – Charles Eric Maine – Grisly account of one of the most horrific families in history, the Beanes of Scotland. They all lived undiscovered in a cave and ventured out to kill and rob.
“The Salem Witches” – Anthony Burton – The madness of the Salem Witch Trials.
‘The Widows Of Pudupettah’ – Ian Fellows-Gordon – An account of customary widow burning in 1817 India.
“Ordeal By Fire And Water” – Michael and Mollie Hardwick – An account of the 1815 destruction of the ship Kent. It was carrying dynamite when a freak accident caused a fire and over six hundred people had to abandon ship.
“The White Death” – Charles Chilton – The huge blizzard of 1886 that almost wiped out the cattle industry in Wyoming and Montana and killed hundreds of ranchers and their families.
“Dusseldorf’s Reign Of Terror” – Frank Usher – The story of mass murderer Peter Kurten who terrorized the city from 1913-1930.
Other authors: John Burke, Clare Smythe, Ronald Seth and Doddy Hay.