How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

This collection of famous people’s deaths is really fascinating.  Paul didn’t like it as much as I did and interestingly what he didn’t like is what I found so appealing–the overall conversational tone of the book .  He found it trying too hard to be hip, or too juvenile, whereas I liked the way Napoleon’s political career might be condensed into a sentence saying something like “and so he convinced everyone to let him be in charge” (I totally made that up-I lent my copy to a friend and so what I had flagged as my example is long since forgotten to me!)

Each historical figure gets a few pages about their life’s work and then their death.  And because so many of these people died in a time when modern medicine was not around we get to read about all kinds of things that just seem plain stupid or crazy (leeches, bloodletting, sticking dirty fingers into an open wound, etc.) and the disgusting results (infections, boils, pus, diarrhea, etc.)  After all that there would be a page or two tangentially related to the person, that was just kind of a fun add on.

I think my favorite part was learning that despite what nearly every single crossword puzzle I’ve ever done has tried to tell me, Cleopatra was NOT killed by an asp. I repeat, NOT killed by an asp!!

This is a reading challenge book, though I’m not exactly sure which list is came from.  If I had to guess I’d say Quick Picks, because what kid who doesn’t like to read, wouldn’t want to read this?


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