Cover 9781785907104

Listen to Alex's brand-new podcast celebrating quirky tales from history, Hidden History Happy Hour, here!


History is full to the brim with untold tales of heroics and villainy, gruesome battles, hilarious happenings and downright bizarre coincidences. Meet the war veteran who lost an eye and amputated his own fingers. Discover the original Die Hards, whose bravery would put even Bruce Willis to shame. Just who stole the still-missing Irish crown jewels and how did Adeline, Countess of Cardigan, scandalise society so completely?

In Lessons from History, Alex Deane takes us on an uproarious romp through the tales you didn’t hear at school. With stories ranging from the little-known characters who played their vital parts in the world’s most famous wars to the remarkable adventures of figures across the centuries, to events so extraordinary as to be almost – almost – unbelievable, this book proves that fact is almost always wilder than fiction. Bringing these stories joyfully and often poignantly back to life, Deane finally shines a light on the tales lost to history, and on what we might learn from them today.


Read Alex's introduction to Lessons from History on the Biteback blog here.

Even better, listen to him chat heroes and rogues from the past on the Biteback podcast here.


“It’s never too late to establish the reputation of a hero. This remarkable book reminds us of the giants who never stepped from the shadows and the events which soundlessly shaped history. These are the people and places we forgot to remember, until Alex Deane revivified them. With a light touch, we are introduced to the quiet men, the natural leaders, the reluctant and accidental heroes whose song is now, finally, being sung.” 

Colin Brazier, journalist and presenter, GB News

“Deane’s stories skip from joyful to absurd to touching and back again, with generous helpings of humour. Highly recommended.”

Gavin Esler

“Provocative, memorable and humorous – Deane never fails to entertain.” 

Kwasi Kwarteng MP

"In this fascinating collection of short vignettes and biographies Alex Deane gives us an insight into people and episodes that are mostly forgotten but immensely interesting and entertaining. The short pieces are full of humour and interest but are also inspiring and they teach many lessons of continuing value, showing the persistent relevance of the past and past lives for the present. A great read, strongly recommended."

Stephen Davies, Head of Education, Institute of Economic Affairs

"I loved reading this book. At one moment funny, another moment moving, I recommend Lessons from History to all who enjoy stories from our past – with a gentle message for our present, and future too."

Iain Dale, Broadcaster

"Short stories with a lot of heart. Heroes and heroines galore, and most of them hitherto unknown. I loved it."

Julia Hartley-Brewer

"A fine collection of unexpected stories."

John Rentoul, Chief Political Commentator, The Independent
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  • Hardback, 304 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785907104
  • 31 August 2021
  • £12.99
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  • eBook
  • ISBN: 9781785907111
  • 31 August 2021
  • £7.99
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