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A new type of city guidebook, published by Temple University Press June 18, is gaining lots of attention in Philadelphia.

Called “Real Philly History, Real Fast,” the 264-page paperback book is filled with “Fascinating Facts and Interesting Oddities about the City’s Heroes and Historic Sites.”

Jim Murphy, a first-time author in his late-70s, says the book is written with today’s readers in mind.

“It’s history for everyone,” he says. “Short 3-to-4-page chapters on 51 intriguing subjects. Each with an informative headline and subhead, easy-to-read bullet copy, short, punchy paragraphs, Fast Facts, a photo, and a list of nearby attractions. You get the complete story in minutes.”

Praised by Sam KatzPaul Steinke and Tim McGrath. Sam Katz, executive producer of History Making Productions, Paul Steinke, executive director of Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, and Tim McGrath, author of “James Monroe: A Life,” and “John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail,” all have endorsed the book.

Murphy says, “I’ve never seen another travel book or guidebook like this in Philadelphia or anywhere else. You can read the book anywhere. And if you don’t like one story, you can just jump to the next.”

Although many local bookstores are just becoming aware of the book, people appear to be buying it. One of Murphy’s neighbors bought 12 copies to give away as gifts. Three residents of a Philadelphia high-rise condo bought 14 copies among them.

“I expect the first printing to sell out quickly,” Murphy says. “Many of the people I’ve talked to have ordered multiple copies as gifts. That’s music to my ears.”

Murphy thinks his book is the first guidebook to include stories on The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

A certified tour guide, Murphy has run his one-man marketing company since 2004. For nine of those years, he wrote and edited Choices, an award-winning magazine for Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union members and business offices with a circulation of 80,000 copies.

The book answers such questions as:

  • Where did the Acadians live during their time in Philadelphia?
  • Who stole the first book from the Library Company of Philadelphia?
  • What famous artist may have been Philadelphia’s first nude model?
  • Where was the Liberty Bell secretly damaged?
  • What city clock is larger than Big Ben in London?

The 51 stories include such varied subjects as William Penn, the Nativist “Bible Riots” and the country’s first quarantine station.

Murphy recommends his book as gifts for students, friends, relatives, graduates, even as presents for wedding parties in the Philadelphia area.

Author Tim McGrath says, “Each page of this excellent book contains a fact that will elicit anything from a smile to a ‘wow!’ Bill Penn would be proud.”

Copies can be ordered from amazon.com, bookshop.org and local bookstores.