File Size: 5950 KB
Print Length: 312 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (October 13, 2015)
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
To go through the approximately 100 instances in this book can be taxing, if not confusing. And, along the way the reader can't help wondering: if these are generally famous people why is mcdougal focusing on their deaths? Wouldn't it be more rewarding and interesting to concentrate on their achievements and personal talents?
But, the brief accounts given in the book about each person serve as reminders of old anecdotes. For example, we are reminded of Socrates (469 BC) who had been charged with impiety and corruption of the minds of people, and sentenced to death by taking a poison. Unfazed. this individual calmly took the toxin urging his friends not to cry or get worried since there is no proof that life is better than the the grave. Or, take the history of Sir Walter Raleigh (1618) who disobeyed the King's orders and was sent to the gallows for beheading. He calmly checked out the axe and finding it sharp enough switched to the executioner and said " Strike, man. strike! This really is as good as medicine". These two cases and few others from the days of Plato and Aristotle point to one advantage seen in death, especially in beginning, namely as a means to spoke of this life of trouble and misery.
If there is any comfort to be found in this enjoyable but cheerless book is the discovery showing how fortunate we are in our present lives. The sickness and misery that folks suffered up to almost a century ago was mind-boggling. Without a semblance of our modern day medical care, hardly any household escaped some serious sickness or death in its family. Individuals influenced most were the innocent, helpless little children. It was not uncommon for a family with ten children to lose five ahead of the age five. The Brontes family, several daughters and something son, with three gifted writers ( who wrote, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights.. ) were all wiped out by hetiquez! One wonders: How do those families cope with such overwhelming disasters?!
As we celebrate the conveniences of this life (and always ask for more) it is probably wise to reflect back about how we got here, and why so many in the earlier welcomed death as a means of relief from the pain and misery of the lives they lived.
Fuad R Qubein
July, 2016, Interesting book but not quite was looking for. I desired to learn something about how these authors viewed loss of life. particularly as expressed in their writings. Perhaps that was just not possible. The book gives a brief bio of the writer including his parentage, his life and how this individual died. A comment on their religious affiliation where known was included. That will might have been helpful if one knew the view point on loss of life of those religions. It turns out the various authors seldom expressed anything specific on death. After reading so many " final chapters" the various stories became repetitive many predictable. I concluded up just skimming the last few " chapters"., Informative and mildly enjoyable but somewhat smarmy dismissive, esp. of alcoholism. We didn't expect much... and it also delivered. Time filler, only., Interesting and informative, up to point. Felt that many things were being left out at times. Several authors were better referred to than others. The ancient greek language and Roman authors were better detailed then the modern ones, which certainly made interesting reading. Great deal of comments about their religion, or none whatsoever. Many of the authors were agnostic or nonbelievers, though several claimed a belief but seldom practiced it. Some times the endless reference to their religious thinking became rather tedious., We enjoyed it for several reasons. I listen to the Writer's Almanac every day to hear about the lives of artists and writers. This book gives brief biological sketches of authors over the millennia and expounds on their philosophical and biblical preparation (if any) for the conclusion of life. As a reader of such books as Thomas T. Noguchi's " Coroner" and Malcolm Forbes " They Went Thattaway", I found this book complemented this physician's knowledge of how famous people depart., Interesting, with a few interesting surprises., Interesting stuff. Great pictures, Interesting read. Many celebrities I " knew" however, many I didn't. A lot more pictures would have recently been enjoyable. I think there is another book that proceeds this. I enjoyed reading the many different information on the lives and times of these stars.
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