12 Acts of Cannibalism (Just in Time for Halloween)

Prepare to be even more revolted, flabbergasted, appalled, and completely entertained by this incredible follow-up collection of absolutely true trivia from the author of 5 People Who Died During Sex.

Nothing is too insane, too inane, or too sacred for Karl Shaw’s eclectic lists of the world’s very worst.

Chapter One

Your Eatin’ Heart


1820: The whaling ship Essex is sunk by a whale, and Captain Pollard and several of his crew survive a long ordeal at sea by resorting to cannibalism. Several years later Pollard was asked by a relative of one of the lost sailors if the captain remembered the man. He replied: “Remember him? Hell, son, I ate him.”

1845: Sir John Franklin made a doomed attempt to traverse the Northwest Passage in the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. His 128 officers and men were last seen near Baffin Island, two months after sailing from London with enough canned food to last five years. Unfortunately, the canning process was defective and the food became contaminated with lead. Those who survived by eating their colleagues died of scurvy.

1846: Lewis Keseberg is one of eighty-seven men, women, and children who set out on a two-thousand-mile trek west, looking for a new life in California, in a wagon train led by Illinois farmer George Donner and his family. The expedition was badly planned and ill-prepared, with insufficient provisions to survive the harsh winter. Of the original party, only forty-seven made it to the end of the trail, having survived by eating their dead companions. Some of the survivors struck a less than penitent attitude about their terrible dilemma. Keseberg cheerfully confessed to a preference for human liver, lights (lungs), and brain soup. In an emotional tribute to George Donner’s wife Tamsen, he noted, “she was the healthiest woman I ever ate.” Years later Keseberg became wealthy by opening a steakhouse.

1877: Lakota Sioux Chief Rain in the Face is the tactical genius behind the ambush of General Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Afterward he admits that he had cut out Custer’s heart and eaten it. He said he didn’t much like the taste of human flesh, he just wanted revenge.

1910: The Mexican artist Diego Rivera, noted for his murals and for his relationship with the painter Frida Kahlo, conducts an experiment with fellow students in an anatomy art class. For two months they live on nothing but the meat of human corpses purchased from the city morgue. According to Rivera’s autobiography, “everyone’s health improved.”

1931: In the interest of research, allegedly, the American travel writer and New York Times journalist William Buehler Seabrook cooks and eats a chunk of human meat from the body of a recently deceased accident victim, obtained from a hospital intern in France. Seabrook, a friend of the occultist Aleister Crowley noted, “It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was very definitely like that, and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted. It was so nearly like good, fully developed veal that I think no person with a palate of ordinary, normal sensitiveness could distinguish it from veal.”

1950: The politician Victor Biaka-Boda, a former witch doctor representing the Ivory Coast in the French Senate, tours his country to communicate with his constituents and find out about their concerns, one of which was a food shortage. They ate him.

1989: John Weber, a twenty-five-year-old factory worker from Wisconsin is convicted for the murder of his wife’s seventeen-year-old sister. During his trial Weber confessed that he made a pâté from his sister- in-law’s leg.
Excerpted from 10 Ways to Recycle a Corpse by Karl Shaw. Copyright © 2011 by Karl Shaw. Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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