But Kaganovich fell out of favor when Stalin died, mostly because of the whole mass murder thing. He was sidelined, then eventually expelled from the Party entirely. But he managed to kick around as a quiet, reserved pensioner until the very end, remaining a hardline communist who hated all of Gorbachev's reforms. The Soviet Union eventually fell into decline, and the last of the Old Bolsheviks died in his armchair, aged 97, on July 26, 1991, months before his beloved Soviet Union also bit the dust.
Our suggested epitaph: "He was there at the beginning, he was there at the end, and he was an asshole all the while in between."
Ulysses S. Grant Died Right After Finishing His Memoirs, Saving His Family From Financial Ruin
Former president Ulysses S. Grant fell onto hard times post-presidency, in part because a shady businessman running a Ponzi scheme suckered him out of virtually every cent he owned. To make matters much, much worse, Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer just weeks later. Realizing that time was short, the general vowed to save his family by writing the best damn memoirs in existence. He worked day and night, and in his own words, the experience was unbearable: "I do not sleep though I sometimes doze off a little. If up I am talked to and in my efforts to answer cause pain." He was racing the reaper with nothing but cocaine water to ease his constant, sleepless suffering. He couldn't even lie down because the position was too painful, so there's something to keep in mind the next time you insist you can't do any more work today because you're too depressed about an incorrect lunch order.
Library of CongressThat’s not the face of someone enjoying recounting their lifetime of achievement.
Despite never being considered a man of letters, Grant somehow managed to crank out his memoirs at the inhuman rate of roughly 50 pages a day. Also helpful was an unlikely ally in Grant's last battle: Mark Twain, who not only offered to publish the book with incredibly generous royalties, but also sent out an army of 10,000 subscription agents dressed in Union uniforms to sell copies across the country, which was the old-timey equivalent of the celebrity retweet.
Grant finished his memoir only days before he died, and it became a monumental bestseller. The book saved Grant's family from poverty and then some, earning $450,000 in a time when dinner out cost, like, a quarter. Twain called it a "literary masterpiece," critics compared him to Thoreau and Whitman, and even today, it's considered one of the greatest works of American writing ever. So if you're a struggling writer, remember that a first-timer in perpetual agony on his deathbed managed to crank out a more successful work than you could ever hope to produce. That probably doesn't help you, but in all fairness, we weren't trying to.
Jacopo is on Twitter, and writes books you can buy here and here. Alex Perry is a freelancer who wrote a novel about time-traveling stalker, as well as a heartwarming kid's book about a boy and his genetically modified pig/organ donor. She wants an agent to help her sell those books, and for you to follow her on Twitter. Jordan Breeding also writes for Paste Magazine, the Twitter, himself, and hopes to go out during a pickup basketball game.
Grant's works really are quite the read, check them out here.
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For more, check out The 5 Historical Figures Who Died The Weirdest Deaths and 6 Mysterious Deaths That'll Make You Believe In Conspiracies.
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