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Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages
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Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  291 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
What is the price of brilliance?

Why are so many creative geniuses also ruinously self-destructive? From Caravaggio to Jackson Pollack, from Arthur Rimbaud to Jack Kerouac, from Charlie Parker to Janis Joplin, to Kurt Cobain, and on and on, authors and artists throughout history have binged, pill-popped, injected, or poisoned themselves for their art. Fully illustrated and
Kindle Edition
Published (first published October 1st 2008)
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Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
This is a crazy book about crazy people. :)
Sooo. The book does what it promises. Sorta.

One might assume by just looking at the main title that the book is about specifically heroin addicts. Famous heroin addicts. Genius heroin addicts. But in fact if you read the fine print you'll discover that it's more of a vice thing. Less specific. Any vice/addiction/obsession will do. Obviously the point is to point out a potential connection between artistic genius and peculiaritiesc-whether it be drug addiction, obsession, eccentricities, etc. whi
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The whole book is like an encyclopedia of famous people who died, most of them "geniuses." How nice, and it's educational--I learned that D.H. Lawrence is not T.E. Lawrence (both included)--but I guess that's not educational, just my mistake.

Anyway, the book says its about drugs or sexual obsessions that lead to death, but the book quickly expands out to people who were just obsessed with working a lot or obsessed with somebody and eventually died, sometimes because of their obsessions, and som
The problem with reserving books from the library sight unseen is that they're not always what you expect. I was expecting more of a general look at the all-too-often self-destructive nature of genius.

Instead, this was a collection of short blurbs on people of varying degrees of fame, artistic success, and creative bent, with particular focus on how they died. While interesting, it strayed rather far from the implications of the title (not all of the people listed died from any particular action
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books-read
This is a very well-researched encyclopedia of famous people (actors, authors, artists, musicians, statesmen, etc) who have been addicted to something throughout their lives. The addiction may be drugs, alcohol, notoriety, food, etc.

It seems that genius does seem to evoke an addictive personality. From Art Acord to Stefan Zweig, the sense of yearning for perfection from the individuals written about here is almost tangible.

The book is definitely informative and an interesting read. Unfortunately
Anthony Crutcher
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fact filled mini biography of many famous people and there self destructive habits and deaths. I had never read a book like this one and actually enjoyed it very much. it was fascinating to read all these incredible stories of real life people. It cleared a lot of the untrue stories involving many famous deaths. As a writer this novel showed me that having all the facts is very crucial to an interesting story. I also learned that getting an idea across through a theme can be done ...more
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
its a a bathroom book, or train/bus
Emily Cooley
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Some of these people were pretty well researched, but I could find any of this information on Wikipedia. I had never heard of most of them. The title and cover are misleading as the "geniuses" listed are not all addicted to substances. It was interesting in an odd way. I would not recommend this one.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of information in here - and it isn't just about heroin, it includes alcohol, opium, laudanum - as well as suicide (hanging and drowning have been the most popular) and psychological conditions.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Intriguing and thorough

I've always been somewhat fascinated with the morbid and this book does not disappoint. Author goes into detail of the "afflictions" of genius. I highly recommend. Will be reading more from the author
John Hood
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bound Oct. 23, 2008 - Miami Sun Post

What Befalls a Legend Most?

The Addictions, Afflictions and Predilections of Some of History’s Greats

By John Hood

It’s generally believed that what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. But isn’t there a time when that which does kill us makes us stronger, too? When the bad we do to ourselves makes us better at what we do? I mean, specifically, drink and drugs, and the sometimes fatal amounts of both that certain creati
Oct 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only five star portion of this book is the introduction. I think there is an amazing correlation between creativity and destructive behavior but this book missed the mark. Rather than delve into the psychology that relates these two behaviors the book merely lists out famous (and sometimes not so famous) examples of people who were creative, what they did, and what ultimately snuffed them out. Also, the title is somewhat misleading. Many of the people 'catalogued' fell into the realm of dyin ...more
David Ward
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, drugs
Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages by Michael Largo (Harper 2008) (920.02). Michael Largo has previously made his name by writing about famous odd deaths or celebrity deaths. This book has almost the same focus; it is a collection of “How the notoriously creative lived and died.” I thought that I was fairly well schooled on the subject of odd deaths, but I learned just how little I knew after reading this book. For instanc ...more
Erin Bradley
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
I think I misunderstood the small blurb about this book, as I had the impression going into it that it was more about why the nature of genius seems to lead so many who have it to addiction and later death. What the book actually contains is an encyclopedia style list of entries for individuals, some famous, many obscure, who are dead. I am not rating it based on my error. Some entries included are for persons who took drugs briefly or drank for a period of time and it didn't even have anything ...more
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just love this book. I've always been intrigued as to how someone with a raging addiction can still output an impressive body of work/get up in the morning at all. The book writes really interesting little tid-bits and anecdotal stories about an enormous amount of artists, what they contributed and how they fell apart in the end (it wasn't from too much orange juice and bracing jogs across the moors). It doesn't purport to dissect the creative mind but it does set out to entertain - which it d ...more
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a mixed bag. There were people in here who didn't have addiction issues, which I found confusing. Also, there were some people who were totally obscure and sort of unimportant culturally who garnered two or three pages of text, and then huge cultural icons who got like a half a paragraph.
Also, I get that it's a catalogue, but....why? It's not an encyclopedia, and it isn't a nonfiction narrative, what does one use it for?? I read it 3 alphabetical letters at a sitting, and it was really
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of history, macabre, death
Like Largo's two other "encyclopaedias", this chronicles death of many celebrities both well known and since forgotten. This book focuses on those acclaimed for genius in many different fields and their subsequent addictions, peculiarities, and eventual death, usually bizarre and/or self-inflicted.
This book is great for those interested in the history of people and the macabre, both of which I find truly fascinating.
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't what I expected. I thought there would be more input about people who died while on drugs, not so much people who just in their past used them. Plus, it was all about the people, and not necessarily the drugs themselves; I thought those would have individial entries as well. It was a quick read though because I skimmed through a lot of what I didn't particularly care for.
Margaret Heller
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
An encyclopedia of how creative geniuses (or at least very well known people) have died from their self-destructive tendencies and addictions. The question throughout is to what extent addiction and mental illness informed art or whether creating art makes one more likely to be self-destructive. I read cover to cover and really enjoyed.
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A cultural study on people who's basic instinct of self-preservation became secondary to the desire to produce original works.

"Our current obsession with creativity is the result of our continued striving for immortality in an era when most people no longer believe in an after-life." - Arianna Sstassinopoulous
Jenny Carroll
Though not my favorite of Michael Largo's (the best is by far "Final Exits") it was interesting.
I did not think that his thought process was completely organize when he started. In my opinion his writing seemed unorganized.
Michael T. McComb
This book is a reminder of the price that comes with certain levels of creativity. A lot of the people in this book were very influential people that lost their battle to depression and/or alcoholism/drug addiction. It was an eye opener.
John Poor
Fun coverage of various artists through the ages that have been eccentric to the point of self destruction.
Oct 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun coverage of various artists through the ages that have been eccentric to the point of self destruction.
Kt Leung
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this during sandy and subsequently came to terms with my mediocrity
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really fun night-table reading. If you enjoyed "The Book of Lists," you'll enjoy this. Lurid and informative!
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its like the anti-chicken soup for the soul. Dark and informative if you enjoy random facts, specifically about dangerously gluttonous life styles. I enjoyed it. Kind of the TMZ of the deceased.
Charlotte Seth
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well written. I learned much!
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eh. Unremarkable. Predictably rehashed tales of self-destructive artistic geniuses. Good laundromat or taking-a-dump reading.
Dec 07, 2008 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
i read through it first, starting only with the names i knew. now, i'm going through it again, reading all the names i don't. loving every minute of it.
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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
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“Good-bye—if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. —AMBROSE BIERCE” 0 likes
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