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Last Words of Notable People: Final Words of More Than 3500 Noteworthy People Throughout History Hardcover – September 1, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Some, such as Michelangelo’s or John Bunyan’s last words, sound like family or friends wrote them postmortem; some sound glib (murderer Gary Gilmore’s “Let’s do it”); some despairing (Freud’s “Now it’s nothing but torture and makes no sense anymore”); some cryptic (Smollett’s “All is well, my dear”); some cruelly ironic (Benazir Bhutto’s “Long live Bhutto!”); some fitting (aviation pioneer Georges Chavez’s “Higher. Always higher”); and some planned, such as Archbishop Laud’s more than 100 word public prayer before he was executed. The last words attributed to St. Paul, Rasputin, Oliver Cromwell, Judas Maccabaeus, and other notable historic figures are in dispute, with competing statements recorded, each with its sources cited in this compilation organized A–Z by the speakers’ names. Author Brahms (Notable Last Facts, 2005) honors 3,500-plus of them, introducing each with birth and death dates, a thumbnail biography, and notes about the circumstances in which the last words were written or uttered. In cases where two or more last utterances are attributed to an individual, they are labeled as “Variations” if they are similar, and “Different Last Words” if they are dissimilar. Quotations that are probably bogus are labeled as “Doubtful.” This collection is more eclectically international and includes more entries than Edward Le Comte’s Dictionary of Last Words (1955), with its American and European emphases. Because variant names appear as see references in the body of the book, the index by names verges on redundancy. Brahms provides interesting and sometimes informative final biographical tidbits from the mouths and pens of biblical figures and ancient authors through Frank Sinatra and John Denver. This specialty niche resource complements numerous biographical compendiums that focus on the lives of history’s notable kings, murderers, scientists, artists, politicians, preachers, and more. --James Rettig

From the Inside Flap

William B. Brahms began accumulating information on "lasts" in 1992 as a graduate library student at Rutgers University. While reviewing core reference sources in a reference class, the topic of notable "firsts" was discussed and an excellent encyclopedic resource was demonstrated. This prompted him to ask: Where would one go to look up famous or notable "lasts?" When his question yielded nothing definitive, the idea (or rather the need) for an extensive basic reference work on "lasts" was born. Widely reviewed and highly recommended, Notable Last Facts, published in 2005 has become a core reference work in thousands of libraries and research centers. While researching "last facts," Brahms began to come across many "last words" of people. When he saw the variety of versions reported and few sourced quotations, he began to collect these too. Many Internet lists and books have endeavored to collect "last words," however these works almost exclusively do not cite historic or vetted sources for the majority of the quotations and many of the "reputed" last words are doubtful, misquoted, or clearly contrived. Almost all of the "last words" collections are non-scholarly, limited in scope, and are generally novelties marketed in the humor or miscellaneous sections in bookstores. A few attempts have been made to study and list last words more seriously, but as resources they too are limited (number of entries, breadth of coverage, age). Last Words of Notable People is the largest, most scholarly and comprehensive compilation of recorded "last words" published. Brief biographies for 3500-plus entries identify claims to fame and each quotation is sourced (many additionally annotated). The quotations, drawn from tens of thousands of references, span the globe and millennia. "Different Last Words," as well as similar "Variations" of "last words" for entries are presented when known. Quotations that appear to be bogus are identified and a sourced explanation is given. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 671 pages
  • Publisher: Reference Desk Press (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976532522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976532521
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,096,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was amazed, for starters, at how thick this book is. (Were we about to hear from some overly wordy deathbed figures?) But instead, it's a comprehensive resource, containing not only a wide array of notable characters' last utterances, but brief and well-written descriptions of who they were and how and when they died. The research appears to have been meticulous, including notes on instances in which the person's actual last words are in dispute. Not something I plan to read cover to cover, but fun to dip into. My personal favorite so far: The words of Henry Graham Greene, "Will it be an interesting experience? Will I find out what lies behind the barrier? Why does it take so long to come?"
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I fear I may be unable to write a review as lovely as those before me, I can agree with them that this book is no where short of amazing. When John Green posted about this book earlier in December, I jumped at the chance without much thought behind it. When it arrived today (sooner than I had expected) I was surprised by the over all size of it-- it made me fear that I was about to read a long winded introduction that took up a quarter of the book (as I've had the experiance before) but as I opened the book and started my journey, I found a short and sweet introduction and 634 pages of my guilty plessure. Something I just found while flipping through that is just as pleasing, is that the pages are recycled! That must be the lovely book smell I have been.. well, smelling! All in all, there is nothing I regret about this buy. -DFTBA
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book kept us entertained on Christmas more than the games! It never got put down a minute without someone picking it up and reading something out loud to us. Very interesting and my youngest son has already used it as a resource for a college term paper. I know it appears pricey but it is by far the best book of this quality I have seen. I looked at several and so glad I spent the extra money for this one. Also includes some historic facts about the individuals that are included.
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By shar on January 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this product for my daughter and she LOVED it! She is a huge John Green fan and this book is one he recommended saying it is one of his favorites. My daughter was anxious to see what the excitement was all about and after she received it, she couldn't stop talking about it. I can say, firsthand, that the service was perfect!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is simply fascinating. I'm currently working my way through the "B's", and every entry is seemingly well researched and referenced. I've found myself Googling information regarding some entries whose names are unfamiliar to me, thereby learning something new, as they say, every day! The book itself is hefty and impressive, but it's nothing to be intimidated by. It's organized like a dictionary, or an encyclopedia. You can sit down and read for hours, or you can glance at one or two entries if you have 5 minutes to kill. Grand book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating reading. You may not want to read all the details on every entry but just reading the last words and then looking to see who said that makes it very interesting. I keep it on a coffee table in the family room and when TV is boring or there are some commercials you would like to turn the sound off on, you can pick up "Last Words" and read a few pages and then you may find you don't want to turn the sound back on, on the TV. I writing a book on death and finding little tidbits I can use along the way. -- Jon Mundy, Ph.D.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an interesting topic to read about. However, it is sorted in alphabetical order only; for electronic editions, you should have the ability to sort by year; for example, I'd love to select people from the modern era vs. wading through people from ancient and mediaeval times as well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent, exhaustive, well-referenced compendium. Hugely entertaining and fascinating read. Pick up some great one-liners and excellent stories for your next cocktail party.
Highly recommend, and in Kindle format it's more portable, and easily searchable. And an INCREDIBLE value!
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