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

Review

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

Ever wonder about the biggest screw-ups in the history of humanity? Then look no further than HOW THEY CHOKED: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg with humorous and detailed illustrations by Kevin O’Malley. This book is a sort of sequel to her first book, HOW THEY CROAKED, which details some of the strangest deaths of famous figures, but here, Bragg examines 14 historical figures and exposes them for the apparently terrible people that they were. The book is loaded with facts, and it is clear and admirable how much research the author put into this book. Using caustic and intelligent wit, Bragg details (strong emphasis on that word) the failures that have often been hidden behind the successes of such figures as Montezuma, Isaac Newton and Amelia Earhart. 
 
A well-researched jokefest with streaks of sarcasm running through that will satisfy the history nerd in everyone. 
 
I liked the book. It’s a quick read because it sucks you in, and there’s just the right number of infographs --- they’re interesting but not overbearing. The illustrations are clever, entertaining and placed well within each section. However, I wasn’t sure what the intended audience was. The bright colors, funny pictures and occasional youthful humor suggests a younger audience, but there were times that I found the book to stray away from listing and explaining interesting hidden failures and enter almost scathing territory. There are times where the author really beats down on these people, and they often deserve it, but it sometimes comes across as extremely harsh. It just might be too much for younger readers, but for someone in their teens and 20s, it’s hysterical and fascinating to see how many famous people have screwed up in history. 
 
Overall, this book was a hoot and a half, a gripping read in the strangest yet best way, but I think this book is better suited to teens and college students than kids. But if you’re looking for a great story to tell at parties, or a pick-me-up when you’re feeling stressed out over school or careers, I would say this is the book is for you. It’s a well-researched jokefest with streaks of sarcasm running through that will satisfy the history nerd in everyone. 

Reviewed by Corinne Fox on May 13, 2014

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