Saturday, January 22, 2011

BC2011: This Will Kill You

Subtitled "A Guide to the Ways in Which We Go", this is one of the most graphically morbid yet fascinating books I've ever read. Authors HP Newquist and Rich Maloof examine more than 75 ways to die in gruesome detail. The book starts with "Alligators" and proceeds alphabetically to "Working in a Coal Mine." For each way of dying, the authors describe how it happens, the underlying medical cause of death, how long it takes, who has the highest risk, lethality, deaths per year and historically, notable victims, a subjective horror factor, and a handful of related factoids. The authors try to add a little humor to lighten things up, but frankly sometimes it's crass. The tiny illustrations are amusing; I wish they were a bit larger.

I learned a lot from this book, although it gave my wife nightmares. After reading This Will Kill You, I can't say what would be the best way to die, but I have some new ideas about what would be the worst.

Toward the end of 2010, I read a related book called Morbid Curiosity: The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous. To me it was just so-so, but someone more into celebrities, especially earlier Hollywood stars, would probably enjoy it.


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