How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
By Georgia Bragg & Kevin O’Malley
Published by Walker & Company, 2011
192 pages (hardcover)
Over the course of history men and women have lived and died. In fact, getting sick and dying can be a big, ugly mess—especially before the modern medical care that we all enjoy today. How They Croaked relays all the gory details of how nineteen world figures gave up the ghost. Readers will be fascinated well past the final curtain, and feel lucky to live in a world with painkillers, X-rays, soap, and 911. (from barnesandnoble.com)
Death is icky, but learning about the peculiar ways famous people died is kind of fascinating in a weird sort of way. Yeah, I felt kind of creepy reading about how all these people died, but random facts are fun and since this IS a nonfiction book I was learning stuff so that makes it ok.
I have read a bunch of history books throughout my life and, by far, my favorites are ones that tell a little bit about people and then give information you wouldn’t heard most other places, especially not history textbooks. And history textbooks rarely tell you about how people die, and definitely not all the gory details. For example, two famous musicians died as the result of lead poisoning (and that is apparently not a fun way to die), King Henry VIII died a kind-of-slow and painful death (which I think he deserved after beheading and divorcing so many wives), and George Washington died of a simple infection, but since his doctors didn’t know much about how to actually treat sick people, they made his dying days so much worse. Ewwww.
My only pet-peeve about How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous (other than the fact it made me think about disturbing things) was that the section on Christopher Columbus told about his ambition, his adventurous spirit, how he kinda-sorta got lost, and how he died. It did NOT tell that he was a jerk (to put it nicely) to the native people he found on those Caribbean islands. In fact, it didn’t mention at all what Columbus did to the native people and that his sailors actually put him in the ship’s prison. Twice. No wonder he died broke and forgotten.
For all those who love blood, guts, and the nastiness behind death… well this is the book for you. Enjoy. And be thankful for antibiotics and hand sanitizer.