Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg, Illustrated Kevin O'Malley

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

Title: How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
Author: Georgia Bragg
Illustrator: Kevin O'Malley
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release Date: July 3, 2012
ISBN-10: 0802727948
ISBN-13: 978-0802727947
Source: My Shelf

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 Croakedrelays 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 found out about this book through Lisa Loves Literature, who did an awesome review of it. As horrible as it sounds the author of How They Croaked made reading all the gory details of death highly entertaining.

This is not a typical book you would see me review, but after enjoying it so much I had to share with all of you. I know it sounds awful to say I enjoyed reading about actual people’s deaths. Georgia Bragg, the author had this way of putting all the facts out there… Yes, it was gory and a bit gross at times, but the underlining humor that laced through each story made me not want to put this down. No, the author did not make light, or even joke about the deaths of the characters, the humor of this book comes from crazy way patients where treated in history. After reading How They Croaked I am extremely happy for the time I live in. I would hate to die of something that could easily be cured by an antibiotic or be bled to death just to bring a fever down.

Each famous person from Pocahontas to King Tut gets their own detailed short chapter. I loved that each chapter I was getting something new. It was evident that an incredible amount of research went into this. I also have to say the illustrations by Kevin O’Malley added so much to each chapter and I greatly enjoyed them.  

There is a warning before you even get started:

“WARNING: If you don’t have the guts for gore, do not read this book!”

But I think anyone from 5th grade up will find this highly entertaining. I never realized before reading How They Croaked that a lot of times doctors “cures” could be much more deadly than the illness a person had. This was informative and pure entertainment all at the same time.

Happy Reading,

5 Moons

Recommended For
5th grade and up: If you kid has a week stomach read a few chapters to see if you think they could handle it.  


  1. Hmm I'm torn! Gory stuff can make me a bit uneasy but I do loved messed up stuff! HMMM What to do???

    Love that cover though, it sets the tone for the book!
    Amber Elise @ Du Livre


Thanks so much for the comment love!