Thursday, April 18, 2013

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


The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. “How they Croaked is like reliving Bambi’s mom’s death over and over again. Except its worse because it’s the blood, sweat, and guts of real people” (p.VI).  You should feel lucky to live in a world with painkillers, X-rays, soap, and 911. You have probably heard of King Tut, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Pocahontas, George Washington, Albert Einstein, Mozart and many other famous people in history, but have you ever read the details of their deaths. Usually their deaths are not explained in detail, but this book does that. Georgia Bragg is the author of the novel Matisse on the Loose. She was a printmaker, painter and storyboard artist before becoming a writer.
Henry VIII became King of England at the age of seventeen, he was a beautiful young king, but he transformed himself into Humpty Dumpty, and he had a great fall. He married three Katherine’s, two Anne’s and a Jane. The first Anne and the second Katherine got their heads on the bridge. He divorced the first Katherine and the second Ann. Jane died in childbirth and the third Katherine outlived him. With various queens, he had two daughters and a son.  Killing seventy thousand countrymen just because they did not agree with him, bankrupting the Treasury, and burying all those wives, made Henry want to overeat, until he became a hateful 320 pound ogre. The blood in his body had trouble circulating back past all that fat, and a throbbing, purplish, stinky open wound of rotting flesh, pus, plugged veins and exposed nerve endings developed in his thigh. It caused him extreme pain and high fevers. After his death, Henry was left in his bed smelling like a giant rotting egg.
 


Elizabeth I, daughter if Henry the VIII, she was enraged that she was not a prince. Elizabeth knew that her mother’s beheading was in part because she gave birth to a girl. Elizabeth did not want to end like her mother, without her head. Elizabeth was twenty five years old when she became queen. She liked men, but she liked her head more. At sixty nine, Elizabeth’s body was starting to show signs of wear and tear, she was forgetful and her joints were swollen. The Coronation ring placed on her thin finger forty- four years earlier was getting hard to see on her swollen finger. It was hurting her, and the ring had to be sawed off. Her health continued to deteriorate eventually leading to her death. 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a musician and composer. As a little kid he was able to listen to a piece of music only once and he was able to play it back perfectly. His father even charged admission for people to go watch him practice. In his twenties he moved to Vienna, Mozart made money by writing dance songs for the balls at the court. Mozart married Constanze Weber, they had six children but only two made it to adulthood. Throughout his life he would get a sore throat, and his shoulders, hips, knees and finger joints swelled up and hurt so badly that he couldn’t move. Leeches were used to suck out the “bad” blood from his joints, which the doctors at that time believed caused illness. Mozart's Health became worse, his body ballooned and he was unable to sit up. He was only sick for fifteen days until he died.
George Washington, First President of the United States. Washington’s face is on the dollar bill, but behind his zippered lips there was not a single tooth. Washington had his rotten teeth removed, his dentist was anyone with a pair of pliers, and all his dental work was done without any pain killers, which had not been invented yet. Washington did not want to be president for too long, what he really wanted was to go back to the farm. In 1797 after being president for eight years, Washington returned to the farm, it wasn’t long before he started having problems. One morning in December 14, 1799, he woke up boiling hot and gasping for air. They sent for the doctor, but back in those days there was not car, and the nearest doctor was eight miles away. As you would probably guess, “bad” blood was thought to be the problem of this, so Washington instructed Leer (his secretary) and Mr. Rawlings (the overseer) to use a double-edged knife called bloodletting blade. They cut deep into Washington’s vein so that his blood flowed out into a bowl. Dr. Craik arrived, he was advanced in medical knowledge and he decided that he would give Washington the blister-beetle treatment. These beetles are highly poisonous and they were smeared all over his neck, causing Washington blood blister. By the end of the day Washington was dead.
I did skip details to not ruin the surprise of this book. This book is not for those who are squeamish. I thought that this book has been my favorite so far, at first I thought it would be like a history lesson, but it was not, it was actually really interesting. What I like about this book the most is that they break up information to make it easy to understand. I would recommend this book for school because it is something that young adults would be interested in, the language used in this book is simple, there are rarely words that are hard to understand, which would really help those who do not have strong vocabulary, it will also call the attention of reluctant readers

4 comments:

Renee Thornton said...

Ummm...
Wow...
Thats really gross.
But definitely interesting. I could see a junior high class eating this up, getting really interested.
It's fascinating stuff when compared with current medical knowledge how regularly people died of things that could be treated with a simple doctors visit today.
I could see this being an excellent history and science crossover book and the unique delivery would make it a lot of fun for students. Even reading it on their own without a lesson attached would teach quite a bit of useful info. Thanks for the disgusting review.

Alexandra Klitz said...

This is a REALLY morbid sounding book which make me REALLY interested in it. I think most people have a mild fascination with death. I think this would be a great companion to either a history or science class. I think a lot of students would be really interested by the topic of death because it is so morbid.

Jchacon said...

This book sounds like a blast to read. You never really think about the deaths of those that at one point in history were held in very high regard. I knew that George Washington lost all of his teeth, but I had no idea that his death seemed to be as a result of asking people to cut him and spread beetles all over him. Oh the crazy treatments of the past.....
This sounds like a book that I would like to have in my classroom, not necessarily to teach, but rather to have around in case a student had free time and wanted to read something that was fun and educational.

Vincent Restivo said...

This seems like an excellent book to get kids in junior high more involved with reading by finding something they will actually connect with at their strange age. This is a prime example of the books that should be presented to kids at a young age so they acquire a positive position on reading as soon as possible.