Signing Their Lives Away

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

About the Book

An entertaining and essential collection of stories about the surprising and strange fates of the fifty-six Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Now in paperback with a brand-new cover, the wildly successful Signing Their Lives Away tells the untold stories of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

In the summer of 1776, a group of 56 men risked their lives and livelihood to defy King George III and sign the Declaration of Independence—yet how many of them do we remember? Signing Their Lives Away introduces readers to the eclectic group of statesmen, soldiers, slaveholders, and scoundrels who signed this historic document—and the many strange fates that awaited them. To wit:

• The Signer Who Was Poisoned By His Nephew
• The Signer Who Was Killed In a Duel
• The Signer Who Went to Prison
• The Signer Who Was Lost at Sea
• The Signer Who Achieved Fame as a Brewer

Complete with portraits of every signatory, Signing Their Lives Away provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative for students, history buffs, politicos, and Hamilton fans alike.



Featured history title in Reader’s Digest’s, “Best of America” issue, 2009

“Kiernan and D’Agnese . . . succeed in stripping away preconceived notions of the more famous signers, and bringing out something of interest about the other, less well known ones.”—Library Journal

“Astonishing individual portraits of all the signers.”—School Library Journal, starred review

Signing Their Lives Away is told in a brisk entertaining fashion.”—McClatchy Newspapers

About the Author

Denise Kiernan

DENISE KIERNAN is a journalist, author, ghost writer and producer.

Since way back in the dark, pre-interweb years of the 20th century, she has written about everything from soccer, food and wine to women's issues, math and atomic bombs. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice,  Ms., Wired, Discover, Reader's Digest and many other national publications for adults and children. She is an Educational Press Association award winner.

She is the author of the forthcoming book Girls of Atomic City (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2013). Two of Denise's Quirk books with Joseph D'Agnese, Signing Their Lives Away and Signing Their Rights Away, both received starred reviews in School Library Journal. Their latest book for Quirk, Stuff Every American Should Know, is due out this June and will revolutionize Thanksgiving menus and Fourth of July trivia battles worldwide. She and Joe live in North Carolina.

You can visit her official website at, scope out what she's reading on her Goodreads page, and add her on Google+.

Joseph D’Agnese

JOSEPH D’AGNESE is journalist, author, and ghostwriter who has written for a number of publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Wired, and Discover. D’Agnese’s works have twice been included in the anthology Best American Science Writing. He’s the author of the children’s picture book Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, about the medieval mathematician associated with the famous number pattern found throughout nature.

Joe’s Quirk books with Denise Kiernan, Signing Their Lives Away and Signing Their Rights Away, have received starred reviews and raves from teachers, librarians and history buffs. He and Denise live in North Carolina. Their latest Quirk Book is Stuff Every American Should Know.

Visit Joe at or follow him on Twitter: @JosephDAgnese.

Product Details

  • Hardcover ISBN: 9781594743306
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-68369-126-6
  • e-Book ISBN: 978-1-59474-480-8
  • Dimensions: 5 x 7 1/2
  • Page Count: 304
  • Release Date: April 30, 2019