Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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

What else do you need to know, really? In this collection of historical biographies, all the facts point in one direction -- toward cause of death. Bragg expertly tells the story of nineteen well-known figures in history, from Mozart to King Tut to Edgar Allan Poe, in a mere four or five pages each. Granted, these biographies are not exhaustive, but they do describe who the person was, what they are famous for, and how they died.

Because of the historical nature of these awfully famous people, some of the deaths are quite gruesome, many having come about from less-advanced medical practice and widespread diseases. Mozart, for example, was only 35 when he died of strep throat in 1791; antibiotics were invented one hundred and forty years later. The details of his death are gory, but somehow Bragg’s sly sense of humor makes it all easy to digest.

With the addition of O’Malley’s whimsical illustrations and some fun trivia at the end of each chapter, this book is a sure winner among readers of history. Teachers and librarians will also appreciate the table of contents, bibliography, further reading suggestions and index.  --Anja Kennedy

Bragg, Georgia. How They Croaked: the Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. New York: Walker & Company, 2011. Print.

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