An information-packed reference for writers and researchers, and an addictive, thought-provoking browse for ordinary mortals.



The lives aren’t always notable but the deaths are eminently quotable in this engrossing dictionary of final soliloquies.

Yes, Nathan Hale did say, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” (though he apparently cribbed the line from a Cato biography). And, no, Oscar Wilde did not die spouting witticisms about the wallpaper; in one of history’s great anti-climaxes, he expired with an inarticulate gurgle. These are among the intriguing and error-evading factoids that librarians, writers and editors will glean in this well-organized, meticulously researched reference tome. In each alphabetically ordered article, Brahms (Notable Last Facts, 2005) includes an engaging biographical snippet complete with circumstances of death, lists every attested version of the subject’s last spoken and written thoughts (with full source citations) and politely tags apocryphal quotations as “doubtful.” The more than 3,500 entries run the gamut, from Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and Elijah to the lowliest of condemned wise-acres. (“I am sorry for the mistake, but this is the first time I’ve been beheaded,” cracks British miscreant Alexander Blackwell after misaligning his head on the block.) In between there are valedictories from statesmen and geniuses, a generous helping of wounded Civil War soldiers’ dying visions—the most poetic is Stonewall Jackson’s “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees”—and many pious, long-winded last gasps of medieval saints and kings. The book rewards the casual reader as much as the professional fact-finder or trivia junkie. Death in all its guises—peaceful, agonizing, tiresome (“I’m bored with it all,” sighs Winston Churchill)—is vividly sketched. Lives are encapsulated: Chekhov departs with the quintessentially Chekhovian “I haven’t drunk champagne for a long time;” Tallulah Bankhead’s “Codeine…bourbon,” sums up quite pithily. And the great existential questions are addressed—never more profoundly than when jazzman Glenn Miller, boarding a doomed flight, wonders, “Where the hell are the parachutes?”

An information-packed reference for writers and researchers, and an addictive, thought-provoking browse for ordinary mortals.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0976532521

Page Count: 680

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2010

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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