I've always had a morbid fascination with how some historical figures and celebrities died, so when I came across The Portable Obituary, I was absolutely delighted with what I found within its pages.
The Portable Obituary by Michael Largo is an A to Z encyclopedia of obituaries compiled of the rich, famous, and powerful dead. From Alexander the Great to Guy Williams, the actor who played Zorro, you can find out how they all died in this book. There are many interesting facts and trivia about how these people died, and how they lived their lives. Most of the deaths were tragic, as deaths usually are, but they ranged from the spectacular, like the guy who died via jumping off Niagara Falls and Cleopatra's death by snake poison, to the mundane, celebrities who died simply from 'old age', which sometimes meant health complications like heart attacks or diabetes.
In fact, there were many who died from poor health, whether at an early age or in their advance years, and many who suffered from infectious diseases or exposure to poisonous chemicals, Marie Curie from the effects of radiation, and Daniel Fahrenheit, who discovered the use of mercury for thermometers and consequently died from mercury poisoning.
There were also those who died from tragic accidents, James Dean in the spooky accident with his Porche 550 Spyder, Buddy Holly and Richie Valenz from a fatal air crash, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, who died 17 years ago this week from a helicopter crash. I was glad that Wong Ka Kui from the Hong Kong band Beyond was mentioned too, he was thirty-one and Beyond was at the height of fame, when he fell eight feet off a stage and died.
Apparently there were many who died from overdose of drugs or alcohol; Jimi Hendrix for one, Jim Morrison another (although whether he's actually dead is still controversial), and Judy Garland, and even more who committed suicide; Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame, George Reeves of Superman fame (no relation to Christopher Reeve), Sylvia Plath who was famous for The Bell Jar, and even Nero, the cruel Roman emperor who killed himself when his rule was overthrown.