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How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,072 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Over the course of history, famous people made mistakes that were so monumental they could never escape them, no matter how brilliant their successes! Ferdinand Magellan is credited as the first man to sail around the world . . . but he only actually made it halfway. His terrible treatment of everyone he met cut his life journey short. Queen Isabella of Spain is remembered ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Walker Childrens
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  1,072 ratings  ·  246 reviews


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Jim
There are thumbnail biographies of over a dozen famous people that Bragg uses to make moral points of, so she's quite judgmental & over simplifies very badly at times. There is no balance or attempt to put many of their actions into historical context. I really noticed this with Benedict Arnold since I just read a biography about him not long ago. Her summary makes one wonder why he achieved the rank & standing he did. No mention of his heroics or how much of a popularity contest rank was in the ...more
Diana
I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways. I can't believe how long I've had this audio book sitting around. I popped it in for a listen while I was getting things ready for a garage sale, thinking it would be "OK" since it's considered a children's history book. I have to admit I really enjoyed it, partly because I love reading about/listening to historical disasters. The audio book is fairly short only 4 CD's, but it has some interesting basic information about things like the Titanic a ...more
Samantha
Apr 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
I really disliked the tone of this book. The writing style is quick to judgment and turns a very disapproving eye towards its subjects. I couldn't stand reading so many articles that just felt overly sarcastic and negative.

Source info, further reading, recommended websites, and an index round out the back matter.
...more
Kyky More
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
How They Choked
How They Choked is an interesting book on the failures of the many people who are thought of as wise and famous. It knocks the people off their pedestals to reveal the true side of each story.
The book contains 14 cases including Montezuma II, Amelia Earhart, and the Captain of the Titanic.
After you read this, you’ll realize that all the famous have flaws.
I recommend this book to 6th to 8th graders and adults. It has a rich vocabulary and “hard to pronounce” names. The pages are j
...more
Kim
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Georgia Bragg does it again. This follow up to her fantastic "How They Croaked" is another set of biographies of famous people with an emphasis on their flaws, failures and flops. Some of greatest and most notorious people in history were not necessarily very nice people. George Armstrong Custer was horrible to pretty much everyone he knew. I wouldn't be surprised if his own troops cheered when they heard he'd been killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn. And Amelia Earhart was exceptionally bra ...more
Kirsti
Short, snappy, somewhat moralistic biographical essays on people who experienced enormous failures. Subjects include Isaac Newton (for wasting so much time on alchemy), Benedict Arnold, J. Bruce Ismay (for building the Titanic but removing most of the lifeboats because he thought they were ugly; also for being an absolute horror of a person), Anne Boleyn, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony (for not achieving votes for women during her lifetime), and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. These essays are for kid ...more
Margaux
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a seriously funny read. Illustrations of spilled milk with feature highlights from the subject's life at the beginning of each chapter. This book is filled with great one-liners.

"Isabella created a society that systematically told some of it's people they were no good" (21)

"There's good news and bad news about Queen Isabella. She's admirable because she ran Spain when everybody told her a woman couldn't do it. And while she was running it she gave Christopher Columbus money to go explor
...more
Michelle Welch
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of kids' book that I love to read: it gets right to the point, and it's irreverant without being too cute. I'm not sure that all the figures whose biographies appear here are quite on the same plane - Susan B. Anthony's failure is of a totally different nature than Benedict Arnold's, for example - and more squeamish parents might object to their kids reading about Aztec sacrifices and Anne Boleyn's sex appeal. Anyone who idolizes Custer and Edison will also be disappointed to se ...more
Robert Risher
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an immensely entertaining, if perhaps overly pessimistic, catalogue of historical failures perfectly suited for adolescents, yet still compelling enough for adults. I picked it up in a middle school classroom in a moment of boredom, and I just kept reading until it was done. The illustrations are as captivating as the writing, and both leave me curious for the creative team's initial venture. I would absolutely recommend this book to inspire historical research with the caveat that stude ...more
Dianne Landry
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this on audio and loved it. It is amazing how, depending on how you look at it, anyone can be a screwup. We think of Marco Polo as this great explorer until we find out he completely messed up in later life when he joined the navy. Amelia Earhart is an aviation pioneer and then you learn she could have made it if she had just followed safety procedures and hadn't hired an alcoholic navigator who didn't know Morse code and used the navigation techniques from the days of Christopher ...more
Jennifer Mangler
There is a lot of judgement of the historical figures Bragg highlights in this book. In the attempt to be breezy, light-hearted, and funny, she gets awfully snarky and judgmental in a way that ignores historical context.If this book was your first introduction to many of the historical figures highlighted, I don't think you'd walk away with a very accurate depiction of them. ...more
Jacob Venske
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The books creamy but it has famous people and about there failures in life.
Trey
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it
This was not quite as good as the first book, however I still enjoyed it, and I finished my genre graph, so win win!
Alex B.
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting nonfiction piece of writing.
Jerry Jares
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The snappy details about the famous are delightful to devour and a reader can't stop at just one.  This isn't your grandmother's history text; it is a light-hearted look at the foibles, errors and personality flaws of the rich and famous.  I developed a taste for Georgia Bragg's outlandish way-with-words while reading her "How They Croaked:  The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous."  My only unhappiness is that she doesn't seem to be writing fast enough for her fans.

Here's a listing of the 14 famou
...more
Vanessa
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I loved to get some history lessons with a fun way of telling the tales. Also liked the summary and listing of the highlights of their failures at the end of each person's story. ...more
Charly Heinrich
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I won this book from a summer reading challenge and it has been my favorite book ever since. It is packed with facts about flaws of some of the most famous. You will NOT be able to put this book down!
Evan
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book was awfully jam-packed with information, along with many I, history buff, did not know. The book, in my opinion was very short and did not know that I was even close to being done with it until I got to the last page. In other words, a very descriptive book that I ate up in a week.
Rylan Anderson
It doesn't tell you really how they died but you can make out what he is trying to say. ...more
Dolly
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: middle grade readers
We read How They Croaked years ago. I borrowed this book soon thereafter, but never finished it, so I finally decided it was time to clear up some of the books in my 'currently reading' folder.

I hate it when I let that one grow too big, since I'm not truly reading all 30 books right now. I created my 'DNF or set aside for now' shelf just for this reason and I really need to clean up house a bit.

interesting quotes:

"If Marco Polo hadn't been a total failure as a soldier, and if he hadn't been tos
...more
Joella
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved How They Croaked and was super excited to see this book come out. When I read How They Croaked I was sad that I didn’t see all the illustrations as I listened to the audio book. But I LOVED the audio book, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book and miss all the audio fun. But I couldn’t wait for the audio and I read it.

This is a fun, snarky collection of biographies that focus on famous people who choked when it was important or after they had done important things. From Montezum
...more
Karen
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
In trying to keep the tone humorous, the book strays instead into being overly snarky. I appreciate that there's a book for kids that doesn't just paint idolizing, perfected images of historical figures, but the chapters are so short that there's no time to give a decent balance to the parts they want to poke fun at, so that it ends up flipping entirely the opposite way and smearing them. Amelia Earhart ends up portrayed as someone who was too crazy about fame to be bothered to practice her flyi ...more
Alexa Anderson
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This compilation featured different people in history, ranging as far back as Marco Polo, to prominent figures such as Isaac Newton, artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, the titanic ship captain J. Bruce Ismay, to Amelia M. Earhart and more. What these short stories tell of each of these people, is a summary of their life, what they were known for (hence why they made history), and also how they choked. How they choked is a nice reference for how they messed up, failed, aka made terrible mistakes b ...more
Angie
How They Choked explores the failures of fourteen historical figures. Obvious failures like Anne Boleyn and Benedict Arnold and George Custer are compared to some less obvious failures like Susan B. Anthony and Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison. I am not sure you can compare the failure of Montezuma to realize Cortez wasn't a god which led to the death of his people to the fact that Susan B. Anthony failed to get women the vote in her lifetime. Some of the facts were really interesting however. I k ...more
Michele
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
It is a tad judgmental and a bit harsh, but it was so interesting to see how a lot of the people you admire were so messed up. It made me feel better for living a life that is sane but without achievement. There are some surprises in here. Amelia Earhart, if that is all true, how is she still such an icon? It makes you think to be sure.
I think I liked Susan B. Anthony best.
Liked this quote: Without equal rights, a country will not be a strong one, nor a wealthy and peaceful one. Nothing is more
...more
paula
Chapters with titles like "Oops, there go the Aztecs" (Montezuma II) and "Stinker, traitor, soldier, spy" (Benedict Arnold) tell the stories of failures by famous folks well-intentioned (Susan B), not-too-bright (Shoeless Joe), delusional or damaged (van Gogh, Newton), or just plain terrible (Bruce Ismay, owner of the White Star Line).

I ran into Kevin O'Malley, illustrator of this book and its predecessor How They Croaked, the day after I read How They Choked and his comment was, "Thomas Edison
...more
Alison
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked the book because the author made it humorous and didn't exaggerate the stories. I also liked it because it was interesting to learn about famous people. I choose this book because I liked How They Croaked. My favorite story was Thomas Edison because it was funny that he patented everything he invented. I would recommend this book to another student because it is funny and interesting. I think the author wrote this book to inform about famous people's deaths. An important lesson I learned ...more
Adam
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought it was a pretty interesting book. Not only was it informational but I learned about people who I have never heard of before. It was really cool to learn about the people growing up but sometimes pretty sad to read how they died. With one exception. One of the characters in the book was on the Titanic as part of the staff. Will not spoil. Would recommend this book to everyone even if you don't like nonfiction stuff. ...more
The Reading Countess
Equally (or dare I say even BETTER than) as good as its predecessor, How They Croaked, How They Choked is an entertaining and informative peek at some of history's most renowned bad boys and girls of history. Informative AND entertaining biographies for the middle grade set? Sign me up!
Highly recommended.
...more
Megan
Jun 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
I found this pretty unpleasant and of questionable quality factually. It might be ok for younger teenagers not all that interested in history, as a jokey read, but the tone is irritating and there were many parts given as fact that I'm fairly certain are pop-culture myths. In a few places the writing is also just poorly structured, notably Benedict Arnold's section. ...more
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Georgia Bragg’s father, mother, and brother are all artists, and Georgia is too. She was a printmaker, a painter, and a storyboard artist before becoming a writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children, and two cats.

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