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How they croaked : the awful ends of the awfully famous

by Georgia Bragg


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* From George Little Mouth of Horrors Washington to Marie You Glow, Girl Curie, Bragg chronicles with ghoulish glee the chronic or fatal maladies that afflicted 19 historical figures. Nonsqueamish readers will be entranced by her riveting descriptions of King Tut's mummification (and the brutal treatment that mummy has received in modern times); the thoroughly septic doctoring that hastened or at least contributed to the deaths of Mozart, Napoleon, James A. Garfield, and others; the literal dissolution of Henry VIII's body ( While lying in state, it is believed that his toxic remains exploded, and some of his royal splendidness dripped out the sides of the coffin overnight ); and the outrageous fates of Einstein's brain, Galileo's fingers, and other coroners' souvenirs. The author tucks quick notes on at least marginally relevant topics, such as leeching, scurvy, presidential assassins, and mummy eyes ( If mummy eyeballs are rehydrated, they return to almost normal size ), between the chapters and closes with generous lists of nontechnical print resources on each of her subjects. O'Malley's cartoon portraits and spot art add just the right notes of humor to keep the contents from becoming too gross. Usually. Despite occasional farfetched claims it's hard to believe that Charles Darwin puked four million times, even though he was fanatical about keeping personal health records this all-too-informative study deserves the wild popularity it will without doubt acquire.--Peters, John Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 5-9-King Tut died of malaria; Edgar Allan Poe is suspected to have had rabies. Beethoven and Galileo both met their ends due to lead poisoning. Fifteen other historical figures, including world leaders, writers, and scientists, were felled by things as mundane as pneumonia and as unpredictable as angry mobs. Each entry provides the circumstances of the person's death and gives context to those circumstances, from discussions of the political climate to medical practices of the time. Chapters are separated by a spread of brief facts related to the individual, the demise, or the era. Lively, full-page caricatures set in decorative frames appear throughout, along with spot illustrations. Back matter includes a lengthy list of sources. The sometimes-snarky writing gives the material a casual, conversational tone that will appeal to many readers. The title alone provides an easy booktalk; expect this one to be passed around and pored over.-Brandy Danner, Wilmington Memorial Library, MA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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