In 1830, an Italian pyrotechnician launched a sheep-bearing rocket 600 feet into the air. Russia’s Peter the Great instituted a tax on beards in 1698. And in 1901, an unfortunate cat became the first daredevil to successful conquer Niagara Falls in a barrel. Ridiculous tales like these dot our history like a bad case of the measles. Humorist and historical fiction author Sarah Angleton jumps across centuries and cultures to highlight stories of some of history’s quirkiest characters and adventures that serve to shed light on her own experiences, like that time her eight-year-old son became obsessed with the bagpipes. Featuring posts from the first five years of the history/humor blog, The Practical Historian, the essays in this collection are part history, part memoir, and all nonsense.