Thursday, November 10, 2011

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

Walker & Co., 2011
We all know how Cleopatra died, right?  Well....maybe not.  How about Albert Einstein or Henry VIII?  Twenty famous people in history are dug up for a second exam in this new book.  It's biography meets forensic science in this book, all with a dash of the gory and humor. 
Death by itself isn't pleasant, and some of the ways the people in this book died are truly sad.  Interestingly enough, this book is written in chronological order starting with King Tut and ending with Albert Einstein.  And with the chronology, comes a pretty interesting look at the ways people would try to ward off disease, infection, pus, gout, draining of the stomach and the black fingers of Marie Curie. 
Georgia Bragg does such an excellent job of weaving together history and humor.  A few excerpts from the introduction lets the reader know the style of this book that permeates throughout the pages:

"There are funny crying parts and disgusting stupid parts and hideous cool parts, but it's pretty much one train wreck after another.  And who can tear they eyes away from a train wreck?"

"Looking back from where we sit now, people a long time ago sure did some dumb stuff - and it's definitely the kind of stuff worth writing about."

And that's what hooked me not only into reading about these past lives of famous people (including Christopher Colombus, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Washington, and Charles Dickens) but going to the interet to learn more about these amazing people's lives. 

So, if you're awash with all the dark and suspenseful YA books out there, this is a refreshing read that'll not only make you laugh out loud, but also explore the darker side of these luminaries.  Recommended for junior high and high school