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The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died Paperback – September 4, 2007


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The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died + Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die + The Big, Bad Book of Beasts: The World's Most Curious Creatures
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061231665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061231667
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Largo is the author of The Big, Bad Book of Beasts; God's Lunatics; Genius and Heroin; and the Bram Stoker Award-winning Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die, as well as three novels. He and his family live in Florida with their dog, two turtles, a parrot, two canaries, and a tank of fish.


More About the Author

Michael Largo and his family live in Florida with a dog, a parrot, two turtles, a pair of canaries, and a tank of fish. The former editor of New York Poetry and the researcher and archivist for the film company Allied Artists, Michael is the award-winning author of four offbeat reference books and three novels.

Customer Reviews

What sets this book apart is that this book is well researched and well written.
G.I Gurdjieff
That people die, is not interesting in itself, so learning that 70 famous people died of strokes, cardiovascular disease etc, is not interesting.
tierny
His is an entertaining and informative book, one that can be read in short spurts or hours because it's easy to find a stopping point.
Spudman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Ricard on November 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
Plenty of books obsessed with scandal and buzz words in the vein of Weekly World News have been written on the subject of celebrity death. The idea of a book that approaches this suggest with respect, intelligence, and a little book of good old-fashioned dark humor is a rare thing indeed. Which makes The Portable Obituary all the better. This is an enormously entertaining, insightful, and fascinating read. Essential for anyone who wants a book that actually knows what it's talking about.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lewis R on November 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The "Portable Orbituary" is well written and easy to read. The book feeds our insatiable appetite for information on the famous, rich and powerful. Just as "Final Exits", Largo's previous book, is difficult to put down, his latest effort, "The Portable Obituary" will keep you page turning from start to finish.
Largo's latest book would make a great Christmas present for the celebrity junkies on your list.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By T. Press on October 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book has an interesting and varied collection of obituaries that read more like mini-biographies, but always include the answer to the most important question--to me anyway--how did they die. The odd and the common ways numerous rich and famous people, from movie stars to inventors, to historic legends met their end were fascinating, and even though I planned to read one, I kept flipping to the next. I appreciated how nothing was sensationalized, and rather serious though entertaining with a sometimes ironic touch of absurdity to many entries. I read a lot of books like this--but this one is refreshingly original.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By spitgrrl on March 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
An entertaining and interesting read but the "famous" people chosen for inclusion in this book seem kind of arbitrary. There are many glaring omissions although, to be fair, how one could cover the deaths of all famous people throughout history in one volume is beyond me. Moreover, this isn't a very good book if you're keen to read some sensationalist accounts of lurid celebrity demises. In all honesty, most entries in this book are of people who died pretty typical deaths. However, this is full of enough biographical information and interesting facts to make it an enjoyable and irreverently morbid read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tierny on February 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is misguided right at the glib title. What does that even mean? ...and what conceivable vector does it loan to the writing? I picked it up for a dollar. It was not even worth that. That people die, is not interesting in itself, so learning that 70 famous people died of strokes, cardiovascular disease etc, is not interesting. Who cares?

Nor does this compendium have anything to with the sub-title (How the Famous, Rich and Powerfful REALLY Died) which makes the book sound more salacious (and thus more interesting) than it actually is. That misreading of the tagline (emphasis mine) would have made a better book. There is so little to say about 90 percent of these deaths that two or three paragraphs are included to remind you who each person is/was, before dismissing their death with a single anti-climactic line. (as with Judy Garland: "In 1969 at age 47 she was found dead in her bathroom from an overdose." Jack Lord: "He suffered from diabetes, had a kidney transplant that was rejected and died in 2002." Gee, that's how they REALLY died?... ho hum.) Very occasionally a 2nd line citing a cause is stubbornly included. The most interesting deaths here are better covered elsewhere. Hollywood Babylon. There's no hook to this book.

Write about unexpected exits, and your book might be interesting:
Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss and his wife killed thmeselves. Le Corbusier swam to his death from his one room weekend cottage. etc.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book/Music Enthusiast on July 19, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Portable Obituary (Michael Largo, 2007). The jacket of this book reads, "A luridly compelling and hilariously macabre look at how the famous took their final bows--from Socrates to Anna Nicole." That statement is misleading, probably intentionally, to entice people to buy the book. Actually, the reports are straightforward and respectful, and each includes an interesting mini-biography. My only objection--and it's a big one--is that there is no index! True, the sections are labeled alphabetically; however, many entries are grouped in sections where they don't belong. For example, Don Knotts appears in the "G" section as part of the report on Eva Gabor; Mussolini is filed under "H" in a little group titled "Dead Dictators." And, how could I ever have found Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline under "N" unless I just happened to stumble over them? I did see Karen Carpenter as I was reading, but when I finished the book and tried to find her again, I could not. The book needs an index!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spudman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Apparently death fascinates Michael Largo because in addition to "The Portable Obituary" he's written "Final Exits".
Using his extensive collection of obituaries, reports, certificates, and documents the author hoped to write a definitive source of how famous people died. His is an entertaining and informative book, one that can be read in short spurts or hours because it's easy to find a stopping point.

For me though it's not a destination for one seeking the outrageous, the sensational, or the morbid. Most of the deaths are ordinary, and I was struck by the fact that so many of the deceased were my age or younger at the time of death. The short biographical sketches can be fascinating though and might motivate the reader to pursue longer works. For example, I am now motivated to learn more about the inventor, Nikola Tesla.

Want some good conversation starters? This could be your book then. The author's take on the Elvis' death is one I'd never heard, and the tidbit about Milton Berle's sexual prowess is an eye raiser.
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