A coworker recommended this book to me at least a year ago and it took me until now to read it. I'm very glad I did though. (I read part on desk and that was a mistake because I kept wanting to cry.)
The stories each on their own are compelling, covering (probably) lesser-known aspects of well-known time periods. And they all come together in interesting ways.
The book is very long and by the time I got to the end I had kind of forgotten the beginning (much like the first time I watched Moulin Rouge... it took me three days to get through it). So as I was reading the ending I was kind of like, "What is happening? This feels a little like a cop out." But then I went and reread the beginning and remembered a kind of important fact that I had forgotten which really changed the way I was reading the end and made it more enjoyable.