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How They Croaked

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
By Georgia Bragg
Walker & Company, 2011
Audience: All Teens (Except hypochondriacs, especially boys)

From Goodreads:
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. For example:

It is believed that Henry VIII's remains exploded within his coffin while lying in state. 
Doctors "treated" George Washington by draining almost 80 ounces of blood before he finally kicked the bucket. 
Right before Beethoven wrote his last notes, doctors drilled a hole in his stomach without any pain medication.
Readers will be interested well past the final curtain, and feel lucky to live in a world with painkillers, X-rays, soap, and 911.


I went back and forth on this book when I was deciding whether or not I should read it. At  first, I thought, "Oh, how cool!" Then I saw that it was only about people that I had already learned about in school and there weren't any current people at all. Disappointment. I decided to skip it. THEN, I saw it had all sorts of crazy information about diseases and medicine. So, I checked it out. I'm glad I did. It was pretty awesome.

For example, I always learned that Cleopatra died from an asp (a type of snake, I believe.) Really, she poisoned comb and pricked herself with it. The comb only had two prongs, so it looked like a snake bite! Also, she died because of miscommunication. She and Antony were hiding separately. Antony heard that Cleopatra had passed away. So, he took a knife and stabbed himself... and then found out that Cleopatra was not actually dead. Oops. So he went to where she was hiding. He died there, and Cleopatra just couldn't live without him. Tragic, huh? And so interesting! 

This book is full of interesting stories, gross facts, and a wonderful sense of humor. You'll be glad you didn't live in the 1700-1800s. Man, were they off on their medical treatments. Sometimes, the things that they thought would help were actually killing their patients! It makes me wonder about what future people will think about how we treat illnesses today. 

It's a good book. I'm glad I picked it up. You'll like it, especially if you're a teen boy.

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