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Valerie Phillips: 'Last Supper' details the final meals of the rich and famous

President John F. Kennedy's last meal was a simple breakfast of soft-boiled eggs, bacon, toast, marmalade, orange juice and coffee, eaten in Dallas before the fateful motorcade ride where he was assassinated.

Princess Diana's last meal was at the Ritz Carlton before she and boyfriend Dodi Fayed were chased by papparazi. She had an asparagus and mushroom omelet appetizer, and Dover sole with vegetables tempura. Dodi has grilled turbot with Tattinger Champagne.

These are just some of the deadly dining details given in "Their Last Suppers: Legends of History and Their Final Meals," by Andrew Caldwell (Andrews McMeel Publishing).

Caldwell, a chef and historian, chose a diverse bunch that includes military leaders Alexander the Great, Captain James Cook and George Armstrong Custer; royalty such as Cleopatra, Leonidas of Sparta and Princess Diana; and movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe and John Candy.

Part history lesson and part cookbook, the book includes recipes for the subjects' favorite foods, as well as their last meals.

Before heading to Ford Theater, Abraham Lincoln dined in the White House on Clear Mock Turtle Soup, roast Virginia fowl with chestnut stuffing, baked yams and cauliflower with cheese sauce.

Martin Luther King's last meal was Southern fried chicken with Louisiana hot sauce, black-eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread.

British Admiral Horatio Nelson's ate Celery and Stilton Soup on the HMS Victory before he was killed in a naval battle against the French.

Caldwell obviously researched the menus, but I think he had to guess on some of them. I doubt there's any recorded recipes for what Cleopatra ate before she let a snake bite her. Caldwell said she had a banquet of grilled eel with basil, whole baked fish in salt crust; Tiger Nu sweets, sweet wine cakes and hummus.

Adolph Hitler's last meal was vegetable soup with mashed potatoes, wrote Caldwell. He added that in September 1931, Hitler became a vegetarian after the suicide of his niece Geli Raubal, but he was often caught eating meat.

Marilyn Monroe had a Mexican buffet delivered to her Brentwood home the night she died.

Rasputin had honeyed cakes, Madeira wine, zakuski (Russian hors d'oeurvres) and black bread.

Elvis' last food was a snack of frosted cookies and ice cream, although he had eaten spaghetti and meatballs hours earlier.

Caldwell also researched some of the person's last hours, and speculated what might have happened if they had just changed one decision.For instance, why did Diana and Dodi Fayed decide to go back to his apartment when they were at the Ritz Carlton? He wrote that had Gen. George A. Custer waited a day before rushing into battle, his death (and that of all his troops) would likely have been avoided.

About Custer, he wrote, "Although Custer was more than happy to serve hard tack to this men, his personal cook, Eliza Davidson, traveled everywhere with him to prepare his favorite dishes, even when he was in hard pursuit of the enemy. Custer hunted every day and on one expedition bagged 41 antelope, four buffalo, four elk, seven deer, two white wolves, and one red fox, along with geese, ducks, prairie chickens and sage hens without number."

Caldwell writes that Custer's last meal was roasted buffalo steaks, beans and molasses, roasted wild corn and prairie hen.