Signing Their Lives Away

Signing Their Lives Away

The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

Book - 2009
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In July, 1776, fifty-six men risked their lives and livelihood to defy the British and sign the most important document in the history of the United States and yet how many of them do we actually remember? Signing Their Lives Away introduces readers to the eclectic group of statesmen, soldiers, criminals, and crackpots who were chosen to sign this historic document and the many strange fates that awaited them. Some died from war-related injuries; others had their homes and farms seized by British soldiers; a few rose to the highest levels of U.S. government (ten signers were later elected to Congress). George Wythe was murdered by his nephew; Button Gwinnet was killed in a duel; and of course Sam Adams went on to fame and fortune as a patriot/brewer. Complete with a reversible parchment jacket (offering a facsimile of the Declaration on the reverse), Signing Their Lives Away provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative for history buffs of all ages.
Publisher: Philadelphia, PA : Quirk Books ; San Francisco, CA : Distributed in North America by Chronicle Books, c2009.
ISBN: 9781594743306
Characteristics: 255 p. : ports. ; 20 cm.
Additional Contributors: D'Agnese, Joseph


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Dec 02, 2016

The only purpose I can find for this book so far is to put me to sleep at bedtime. I'm not sure what the authors thought they were writing, but I wouldn't file it under either history or biography. The tone is often flip and slangy, and sometimes even crude (use of the following: hell, damn, butt, asses. None of those words enhances the writing; rather, the opposite is true.)
The layout makes it hard to read. For example, the book is shorter in height than most books, and each signer's signature is printed huge and perpendicular to the writing in his chapter. There is no purpose to superimposing the signature over part of the page, as the first thing that you see for each man is his signature. A further annoyance of the sideways signatures is that they hide the page numbers; for the first hundred or so pages I didn't think there WERE any page numbers because I couldn't see any.
I think the idea was to have the book look different and appealing, so that maybe we wouldn't notice that there is so little substance to the biographies. The book could have been a useful and informative tool for learning about the Declaration's signers. As it is, it merely adds to the current trend to make history simple and shallow.

modis01 Dec 28, 2014

Appropriate for middle school students with short bios of all the signers. A quick historical reference.

Gail49 Aug 05, 2014

bas bleu

bookfanatic1979 Apr 29, 2011

Fascinating. Though written ostensibly for children, the language and some of the authors’ comments really seem to be more adult-oriented. I’m ashamed to admit I only recognized a handful of the 56—57 if you count Hancock’s secretary—men who signed. Great read for any history buff.


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