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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781472294081

Price: £10.99

ON SALE: 9th November 2023

Genre: Mathematics & Science

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A hilarious look at how the line between ‘genius’ and ‘extremely lucky idiot’ is finer than we’d like to admit.

The more you delve into the stories behind history’s greatest names, the more you realise they have something in common: a mystifying lack of common sense. Take Marie Curie, famous for both discovering radioactivity and having absolutely zero lab safety protocols. Or Lord Byron, who literally took a bear with him to university. Or James Glaisher, a hot-air balloon pioneer who nearly ended up as the world’s first human satellite…

From Nikola Tesla falling in love with a pigeon to non-swimmer Albert Einstein’s near-fatal love of sailing holidays, The Limits of Genius is filled with examples of the so-called brightest and best of humanity doing, to put it bluntly, some really dumb shit. These are the stories that deserve to be told but never are: the hilarious, regrettable and downright baffling lesser-known achievements of the men and women who somehow managed to bungle their way into our history books.


Katie Spalding is one of those annoyingly talented writers. Funny, and with an absurd amount of obscure knowledge, The Limits of Genius is a must-read on how everyone is much, much stupider than they make out. What more could you ask for than a book that'll make you feel less of an idiot than Einstein?
James Felton, author of 52 TIMES BRITAIN WAS A BELLEND
The Limits of Genius is a masterful combination of historical research and comedic storytelling, infused with erudition and judiciously dropped F-bombs. I laughed out loud on nearly every page. It is truly inspiring to read about the stupidity of geniuses. Thank you, Katie, for knocking these wunderkinds down a few pegs and making the rest of us feel smarter in the process.
Justin Gregg, author of IF NIETZSCHE WERE A NARWHAL
With wit and charm, each of Katie Spalding's stories in The Limits of Genius nudges, pushes and eventually shoves some of our most illustrious celebrity thinkers right off their pedestals.
David McRaney, author of YOU ARE NOT SO SMART
The Limits of Genius is a light-hearted and amusing account of some of history's most influential people. Even the brightest minds can produce some truly dim moments and this book doesn't hold back.
Nick Caruso, New York Times bestselling author of DOES IT FART?
A very funny, super interesting, and quite sweary look at history's great thinkers, examining all their quirks and foibles.
Lucy Porter
An extremely entertaining book. The Leonardo chapter left me helpless with mirth and the Karl Marx one brilliantly tells my favourite "Karl Marx gets passed" anecdote better than any version I've ever seen. Smart and hilarious what's not to like.
Otto English, author of FAKE HEROES
Such a great idea I wish I'd come up with it first. One of those books that makes you laugh so much you forget you're learning stuff.
Jonn Elledge, author of The Compendium of (Not Quite) Everything