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Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die
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Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  992 ratings  ·  123 reviews
To die, kick the bucket, to meet your Maker, dead as a doornail, get whacked, smoked, bite the dust, sleep with the fishes, go six feet under—whatever death is called, it's going to happen. In 1789 Ben Franklin wrote, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Death remains a certainty. But how do we die? It's the enormous variety of how that enlivens final ex ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published October 1st 2006)
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Best Book Cover Art
423rd out of 5,036 books — 4,911 voters
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Thanatopsis: Death, Dying, and Mortality
24th out of 229 books — 114 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,519)
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Bird
Those who know me know I have macabre tastes, so this was a great read. Why not 5 stars? No goddamn sources! Without sources, this is a collection of anecdotes.
Danger
It's endless entertaining to whip this book out and tell my family, friends and love ones of all the ways they can die. Personal favorite? The spiders in the soup.
Rachy
This is a readable book on a very interesting subject - the different ways people die. Yeah, there are some examples that I didn't even think about as a real cause of death. But overall what a disappointment! The author appeared to be making up facts to back up his writing as the statistics were all screwy and there were no citations. As a history person I find this very suspicious. Over and over again he used misleading or wrong information. For example, he says that President William Henry Har ...more
Aaron
I read this book wrong. Start to finish. Why did I do that? It's statistics and trivial facts. It's supposed to sit on your shelf and be picked up by guests when they come over! But I had to prove to myself that I could finish it. But I did realize that as a race, humans are a lot like cats. You know - how we always sit around and wait for our cats to make mistakes? And when they do we all laugh! Well, this book is like that, only with death and humans instead of mistakes and cats.
Meaghan
This was a compulsively readable book of death trivia, well-illustrated, with numerous interesting tales of people who died in unusual ways. I noticed several inaccuracies, however, and some sentences that were so grammatically flawed they made me wince.
Windy
This isn't really a life-changing book, and I doubt it will actually extend my lifetime, as the writer claimed (I hope sardonically) it would in his preface. However, it is an interesting read, if only to satisfy your voyeuristic tendencies and deep down desire to just laugh at people who are more idiotic than you. Sometimes I felt that certain details were glossed over or slightly slanted, and simply listing sources in the back doesn't quite satisfy me. I would never seriously quote a statistic ...more
Wes
Peerless toilet reading. And I mean that in the best way possible. This is a wry and zippy encyclopedia of various ways that people have died, focusing mainly on Americans in the last 150 yrs or so. Entries range from the relatively mundane (Lyme Disease), to Darwin Award worthy catastrophes (I now know that there's a pretty strict limit on the number of coffee enemas you can safely administer to yourself in a 24-hour period).

Basically the ways in which we can die are limited only by the objects
...more
Angie Lisle
I read a lot of morbid books. I was excited to stumble on this one in my library - it seemed like one I would love.

The presentation is horrible. Other people may not be bothered by the organization of this book, but I had major issues with it. The information isn't organized very well - chapters are alphabetically arranged but within those chapters, it's difficult to tell where one topic ends and another begins. This makes the book especially difficult to read if you just try to read one or two
...more
Marcus Mennes
Jun 30, 2007 Marcus Mennes rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mortals
I happened upon this book while browsing at the Seattle Public Library, and enjoyed it so much that I purchased a copy. Not that I take pleasure in the contemplation of death, or preoccupy myself with morbid thoughts of an early demise, but I found this pop-encyclopedia to be damn fascinating.

In his preface the author explains, “It took more than ten years to gather the multitudinous statistics on fatality.” We might imagine him hanging around morgues, poring over thousands of coroners' reports
...more
Lanea
Save your money! This is an absolutely terrible book. It's a cool concept, and I'd seen many positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, so I bought it. What a disappointment! The author provides no references or notes on his "research," so he may as well have made up all of the content. It's full of typos, factual errors, and ridiculous statistics. He claims at one point that less than 3% of the 100 million Americans who go to amusement parks die because of injuries received there. Excuse me? I w ...more
HeavyReader
Feb 08, 2012 HeavyReader rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks who are interested in weird ways to die
Shelves: death, found
First of all, this encyclopedia is not really illustrated. Oh sure, there are some pictures, a few of the actual subject under discussion, but most of them are just stock photos. That was quite a disappointment. I thought I was going to see illustrations of actual dead people, which would probably gross me out at first, but I think I would be better off if I did more actual looking at death in the face. But anyway...disappointing illustrations.

The information in the book is really fascinating. S
...more
Spencer
the cover of this book is repulsive but my kids were entertained as we slept in the tent and read about amusement park fatalities. This book was fun stuff. But I just don't trust the author.
57 kids died since 1990 due to toy basketball net entanglements?
golf carts cause 25 fatalities a year?
since 1970 2880 infants have died when entrapped in the footrest of a reclining chair?
since 1980, 9 kids have died by folded up cafeteria tables falling on them?
75 kids died of lawn darts from 1965-1988?
since
...more
Malbadeen
Sep 22, 2007 Malbadeen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people-that-imagine-death-is-around-any-corner
Shelves: nonfiction
This is my kind of non fiction - short excerpts of totally useless but highly entertaining information.
The writing itself is nothing to write home about and some causes of death don't really seem worthy of an entry (i.e. "dwarfism" - they have shorter life expectancy rates....zzzzzzzzz) but the causes are in alphabetic order and it's easy enough to skip around. Hop right to L's and find out about the man that died from Laughing for 3 days straight or go right for the R's where you can learn abo
...more
Bobby
A 4.5 stars book. Chock-full (or choke-full if you prefer) of interesting factoids about the banal and the more exotic ways we die. Despite the somewhat morbid title, it has more of The Onion-like flavor the way it's written, ie, more wry than depressing . Almost gave it 5 stars but two things kept me from doing so. One, I felt the author incorrectly attributed a causal relationship between two things just because they happen to be associated together. Especially when he was trying to make certa ...more
Kristina
Fascinating. It was interesting to read about the many different ways in which people have died. In a way, this may sound sadistic, but death is a part of life that many of us do not see. On the other hand, this book almost left me wanting to know more. I know Largo researched these events, but I didn't know where he found this information. Some stories were almost hard to believe, and I'm not saying they were not true. I just wanted to know more details, that's all. Overall, this is a great boo ...more
Wes Young
The subject matter herein is worthy of the "Wow! What a great idea for a book!" thought or comment. It was very interesting to read, but not very entertaining (i.e. it took a really long time to get through). Endless stats, which are pretty boring, alongside anecdotes, some of which are really fascinating. My favorite part, fittingly at the books end, is the epitaph section. The book is billed as humorous, I found it decidedly not so. Grave matters, these... haha
Josh Belville
I read this over the course of a year or so. Really entertaining. Even though it's pretty dry, the encyclopedia titles for ways people die is in itself hilarious. I also especially love how under "Marijuana," Michael writes, "There have been no deaths associated with marijuana." Either way, great coffee table book for the more macabre types, but also just really interesting information on the myriad ways in which we die.
Robert
An excellent book. Interesting and entertaining. I read this encyclopedia of death from A-Z and was astounded by many of the accounts of common and unique deaths. I'll never forget the story about the elevator operator who survived the 78-floor plunge after a plane crashed into the Empire State Building—incredible story! Many of the stories show how carelessness/stupidity can be the death of us.
Anthrodiva Stommen
Fun, but should be taken with a grain of salt. Thanks to many years reading Carol's purloined Mortality and Morbidity Todays, I know some of his stats are farfetched, other stories are in the realm of urban legend, and as for his claim that 'researchers think giant squids are responsible for many disappearances at sea," well...
Gina
WOW! What a fun book! The author has been obsessed with collecting statistics and information on the American way of dying for years, and thank goodness for us, because here is an A-Z encyclopedia on all the different ways we die. I read it cover to cover, but this would make a great bathroom book.
Jamie E.
Hands down, a morbidly curious read filled with true accounts on the way we go that is both humorous, sensible, ridiculous, shocking, natural and unnatural. But hey, let this book serve as a reminder that "One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching."
Gretchen Hertz
My friends and I read this together as a group over several meet-ups. We made dinner and passed it around the table, randomly selecting topics to read aloud. One might think it to be a rather strange dinner conversation, but we had a blast! It made for great story-telling.
Donell
This was such an interesting and fun read! Each entry is only about 1/2 to 1 page long, so if you want to find out all the bizarre and unbelievable ways that people have died throughout history, check this one out~ I couldn't put it down!
Teal
Very interesting and at times horrifying. The one drawback: it seemed that the closer to the end I got, the more typos and grammatical errors I found. They annoyed me so much and pretty much ruined the second half of my reading.
Ry
Is it wrong of me to find this morbid book funny? If so, then I am most definetly going to visit Hades. Final Exits is humorous and informative at the same time. Michael Largo did an excellent job when he wrote this book.
Liz
Funny and interesting read and hard to put down. Lots of great little tidbits of info. Good book to pick up from time and time, open to a page at random and start reading. I enjoyed it a lot.
Sarah
This may be the best nonfiction book I have ever read. I regularly gasped in horror at what I read. In addition, I was constantly telling stories and facts to anyone who would listen to me.
Leilani
This book was fun to read passages out of to other people on a road trip! It's basically an anthology about all the weird ways people die. There is an entry about ice cream. Swear.
James Asmus
Quite possibly the one book I would save in a fire. Endlessly fascinating, educational, and inspirational (to someone like me with a hopelessly dark sense of humor).
Sam
This book is so damn cool, I've read it a few times. It doesn't need to be read in succession, and it's great for starting some pretty interesting conversations.
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Michael Largo is an expert on the anomalous ways of American dying. He is the author of The Portable Obituary (a Bram Stoker Award Finalist), Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die (winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction), and three novels. He was the former editor of New York Poetry and the researcher/archivist for the film company Allied Artists. ...more
More about Michael Largo...
Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died God's Lunatics: Lost Souls, False Prophets, Martyred Saints, Murderous Cults, Demonic Nuns, and Other Victims of Man's Eternal Search for the Divine The Big, Bad Book of Beasts: The World's Most Curious Creatures The Big, Bad Book of Botany: The World's Most Fascinating Flora

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