They Lost Their Heads!: What Happened to Washington’s Teeth, Einstein’s Brain, and Other Famous Body Parts by Carlyn Beccia
Summary: From the kidnapping of Einstein’s brain to the horrifying end of Louis XIV’s heart, the mysteries surrounding some of history’s most famous body parts range from medical to macabre. Carlyn Beccia explores the misadventures of noteworthy body parts through history and springboards to exploring STEM topics such as forensics, DNA testing, brain science, organ donation, and cloning. The engaging tone, wonderfully creepy subject matter, and delightfully detailed art are sure to capture even the most reluctant readers.
The famous people and their body parts include:
Galileo Galilei / Fingers
Louis XIV / Heart
George Washington / Teeth
Franz Joseph Hadyn / Head
Beethoven / Hair
Abraham Lincoln / Body
Chang and Eng Bunker / Liver
Phineas Gage / Skull
John Wilkes Booth / Neck vertebrae
Sarah Bernhardt / Leg
Vincent Van Gogh / Ear
Mata Hari / Head
Albert Einstein / Brain
Elvis Presley / Wart
Thomas Edison / Last Breath
Release Date: April 2018
Age Group: Childrens, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction
Source: Purchased at a Book Fair
Reviewed By: Nat
This book causes severe “googling” and really brought out my Southern drawl as I kept saying things like: “Oh no they didn’t” or “Bless their hearts“.
I have also lengthened my bucket list because you know I want to track down Elvis’ mole. 😂😂😂 I couldn’t even type that without cracking up! Dang people are so weird!
If anyone wants my body parts and can sell them for millions, they are yours! I just request that you give my kids at least 33% (I don’t want them getting too rich off my parts, they need to work!)
One day, a nineteen-year-old guy who wanted to be a PE teacher applied to be a police cadet so that he could get his education paid for. Little did young Ron Stallworth know he would become the first black detective in the Colorado Springs police department, lead a successful intelligence investigation against the Ku Klux Klan, and go on to have a storied career.
BLACK KLANSMAN is the story of Stallworth’s investigation into the KKK and various organizations that counterprotested them, especially the local Communist group. Stallworth has an interesting perspective on race relations as a peace officer. He is well aware of racism and other issues within the police. He reports things said to his face that white officers didn’t even realize were offensive, and describes what happened when one of his colleagues shot an unarmed kid. At the same time, he believes in the duties of a police officer and in making a difference from the inside.
While the KKK are the villains of the story, Stallworth does not approve of terrorist action against the KKK. His goal in his intelligence investigation is to keep the peace within the community and protect the innocent. This is not a police story where a bunch of people go to jail in the end; however, it is one where no crosses are burned and no gay bars are bombed because of the police who infiltrated the KKK.
It’s a compulsively readable story. Stallworth is not an expert writer (he thanks his English teacher at the end for helping him polish his memoir), but he tells what happened in a straightforward fashion. The simplicity helps keep the pages turning. There’s suspense, such as the mounting tension in anticipation of David Duke coming to town. There’s humor, as KKK members speak to Stallworth on the phone and make it obvious just how clueless they are. There’s the horror of how David Duke in his suit and with his good manners made the hate of the KKK more palatable to the masses. The resurgence of the KKK under Duke, during the time period of BLACK KLANSMAN, has a direct line to the explosion of racism and fascist ideals in the US today.
In 2014, BLACK KLANSMAN was released without much fanfare from the small publisher Police and Fire Publishing. In 2018, it has been re-released from a Big Six publisher to coincide with one of the movies of the summer, BlacKkKlansman. I am thankful to Jordan Peele and the other filmmakers who saw the potential in the story of this once buried investigation and brought it to the forefront of the public consciousness. It’s a fascinating story, and a reminder that all of us can act against hate.
By Neil Gaiman
Available now from William Morrow (HarperCollins)
I can’t quite remember if I was in junior high or high school when I first read a Neil Gaiman novel. I remember instantly searching through the library for more, because I was hooked. I remember, on a school trip in eleventh grade, barely beating out a good friend for a signed copy of ANANSI BOYS. I saw it on the bookshelf first and grabbed it with alacrity; my then boyfriend paid for it. I let my friend read it once I was done (and another friend besides); I have never believed in collecting things that I won’t actually use. I’ve since bought a more practical ebook for rereading, but I rest more easily knowing my signed copy has been loved.
As a long time fan, I know that Gaiman has experience with nonfiction, having worked as a reporter. The pieces in THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS are not reportage, but a collection of speeches, articles, essays, and introductions. They’re taken from throughout his career and organized loosely within subjects, not chronologically. I personally found myself hopping from subject to subject, looking though the table of contents for which titles appealed most to me. I have only ever been a sporadic reader of nonfiction, and I tended to wander away from THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS if I read too much on one topic at once.
Many fans will be familiar with several of the pieces in THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS. Even non-fans are likely familiar with “Make Good Art,” which is also available for purchase on its own. But there was certainly plenty I’d never read, from conferences I’d never attended and publications I’d never purchased and things that were simply written before that nebulous year that I first picked up a Neil Gaiman novel. I appreciated that there was context included for each piece, although the details available varied. The who and when a piece was written for are important, and I wish those snippets of context were at the beginning of each piece instead of the end, but I did like that they were included at all.
Gaiman has an easy manner to his nonfiction. There are some lovely turns of phrase, but it is approachable and friendly. It’s a tone that feels thoughtful but not pretentious. (Not that a little pretension doesn’t slip in here and there. I think any author has those slips of pretension, however.) I also loved coming across with gems in old material such as, “[The novel] has a working title of American Gods (which is not what the book will be called, but what it is about.” 19 years later we know that not only did the novel stay titled AMERICAN GODS, but it is now a TV show by the same name as well. Sometimes the working title sticks, even though that wasn’t the plan. There’s no special attention brought to the line, since there is no commentary, but it still leapt out to me. Such lines are insights into Gaiman’s process that go beyond the intentional.
THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS is an entertaining read for Gaiman fans. Non-fans might find some pieces interesting, especially the ones about Gaiman’s relationships with other authors. Mostly, though, I think this is a book for the fans. But it is not a cheap cash in on their interest. There’s good material, not all of it readily available, presented well. I enjoyed reading it.