Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher arrives for the unveiling of her new portrait by artist Benjamin Shine at the Dorchester Hotel in London August 1, 2006. The piece is made of iron and silk chiffon in reference to her nickname "The Iron lady". REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN)

The lives of the giants who made our world are reflected in the softcover Titans of History, by Simon Sebag Montefiore, newly published locally by Quercus.

The cast varies from conquerors, poets and kings to empresses, whores, psychopaths, composers and explorers. The characters featured range from Rameses The Great, Confucius, Vlad the Impaler and Alexander The Great, to Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, Captain Cook, Henry V, Joan of Arc, Rasputin, Mahatma Gandhi, Caligula, Jack the Ripper, Charles Dickens, Mozart and Beethoven.

From more modern times we get the likes of Al Capone, Adolf Hitler, Anne Frank, Elvis Presley, Margaret Thatcher, Idi Amin, Osama Bin Laden and our own Nelson Mandela.

Informative, entertaining, inspiring and sometimes horrifying, this is a history of the world that contains the characters everyone should know and the stories nobody should forget, to quote the sleeve blurb.

Well worth a browse.