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BOOK REVIEW: And Then You’re Dead – A Scientific Exploration of the World’s Most Interesting Ways to Die by Cody Cassidy & Paul Doherty

| 3 May 2017 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: And Then You’re Dead – A Scientific Exploration of the World’s Most Interesting Ways to Die by Cody Cassidy & Paul Doherty

Allen & Unwin
May 2017
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Popular Science


What would happen if you stuck your head into a nuclear particle accelerator? What if you jumped into an interstellar black hole, or slipped out of a deep-sea submarine wearing only a pair of Speedos?

In And Then You’re Dead: The world’s most interesting ways to die, we’ll give serious answers to these horribly interesting questions in a way a layperson can understand. Illustrated with straight-forward technical art and leavened by small doses of dry humour, the book will be both scientifically informative and gruesomely entertaining. Relying on the deeply human observation that things which actually happen compel little interest, there will be no discussion of heart attacks or car wrecks. But there will be plenty to learn about those people unfortunate enough to get swallowed by a whale.

A fun, gruesomely fascinating and scientifically accurate guide to some of the most bizarre ways to die.


If asked to sum this book up in four words, they would be: hilarious, gruesome, informative, and terrifying! It’s brilliant, and you should definitely read it.

It’s a brilliant resource for writers, those inquisitive about a variety of sciences, and those who want to laugh… It’s probably not the best for hypochondriacs, but then, you might be surprised at some of the things people could live through.

The only qualm this Aussie reader had with this book is that the units of measurement were in American terms. As a result, rather than being struck by the magnitude of certain heights, temperatures, or weights, Aussie readers will first need to google said measurements, and it does bring the reader out of the flow in order to understand exactly what is being discussed.

This could have been helped with the listing of both measurements, and would have made the whole book that little bit more accessible for a global audience. Of course, there are still instances American place names being listed in a way that only those who have lived in America would really understand, but as these are not listings of specific measurements, they manage to not become major roadblocks to the reader.

But beyond that, this book is a whole lot of deliciously gruesome fun, and is bound to teach you something you didn’t know before, but in an easy to access, colloquial manner.

The title suggests that all the deaths discussed will take place on the planet Earth, and that the book is entirely focused on said deaths. It should be noted that there are a handful of deaths that occur in space or on other planets, and some scenarios are more about the science or history than a human being’s involvement in it, but they’ve been explained in a way that relates to a human physiology. 

It might seem like an odd direction to take, but in showing how a person would cope (physically or mentally) with a situation, this book involves the reader, and prepares us for all kinds of situations, no matter how unlikely.

It’s an odd little book, and without a doubt one of my favourite non-fiction titles in recent times. Fans of things like Randall Munroe’s books (What If? and The Thing Explainer) are bound to enjoy And Then You’re Dead, but will likely find it more relevant. It also doesn’t hurt that the language is somewhere between Munroe’s two books (neither overly scientific or incredibly dumbed down), easily understandable, and all about the people.



Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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