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How They Croaked

May 28, 2013

How They CroakedHow The Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg, Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley

Walker Childrens (March 15, 2011)

Summary: Who would have believed that the end of some of history’s greatest figures are just as interesting as the lives they lived! In How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous, Georgia Bragg explores the events that lead up to the deaths of history’s notables such as King Tut, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Dickens, and Albert Einstein (to name a few). Bragg dispels some death myths and shares some pretty gruesome (but mighty interesting) details about final moments of her famous subjects.

The Good: This is a very readable book with descriptions of the mortality of nineteen of history’s notables. Most interesting is how many of the figures had an afterlife in that being dead and buried didn’t necessarily mean going to his or her final resting place. That is one problem with being dead- you can’t really object when friends and fans decide to take a lock of hair, a bone, or even your brain as a souvenir. Yup- you read that right- brain. Read on to find out who lost his gray matter.

Most of the subjects of this book are so famous that most people will have at least some knowledge of who they are. Bragg gives a little bit of perspective on their lives so that we can understand how they came to meet their end. This book does not give in depth information but it is written in such a way that I wanted to know more- not only about the subjects’ deaths, but their lives as well.

The Bad: While a few of the subjects in this book died peacefully, most had a harder time taking their final exit. Let’s just say that eating and drinking lead is not a good idea-who knew? Did you know that Christopher Columbus’, Charles Darwin’s and Marie Curie’s jobs basically killed them? That’s it- I’m not going to work tomorrow! Also, have you ever heard the saying, “The cure is worse than the condition?” Several of these famous subjects endured treatments that probably had them begging for the end.

The Ugly: James A. Garfield was the twentieth president of the United States. Remember any of his great presidential achievements? No? That’s probably because he was only president for four months before he was shot. Well, it wasn’t the bullet that killed him, but the treatment of the medical professionals. Just to make matters worse, it Garfield did not come to a quick demise. I was about two and a half months from the time that he was shot until he died. This story is not as dramatic as some of the others, but oh, what Mr. Garfield endured!

The Awesome: This is not the book to use if you are doing in depth research on a historical figure. However, it is a quick read (I read it in one day) and whets your appetite for finding more information on the subjects in the book. The book is well researched and Bragg includes her sources as well as suggestions for further reading. Now, I’m off to learn more about James A. Garfield!

*Image from Georgia Bragg’s website, http://georgiabragg.com/. Check it out!

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