Nope, we're not exaggerating. “Shadows from the Walls of Death” sounds like a fantastic book of horror. The book is the most dangerous book known of, and not for the words it contains. It doesn’t even contain any words after the title page and preface. The 86 page book simply contains samples of wallpaper. The wallpaper samples are infused with a deadly amount of arsenic!
There are only two copies of the book in the U.S. They are located at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. At Michigan State University, they don’t kid around either. The book is held in their library’s Special Collection division. The book is sealed in a protective container and each individual page is encapsulated. Anyone who wishes to view the book has to wear special blue, plastic, protective gloves.
The book was created by a University of Michigan alum, actually. Robert Kedzie graduated in 1851 with a medical degree. He worked for a time and then became a civil war surgeon. In 1863, Kedzie returned to Michigan to chair the Michigan Agricultural College’s chemistry department where he later chaired the committee on “Poisons, Special Sources of Danger to Life and Health.”
His main concern was poisonous paper, especially arsenic pigmented wallpaper. It was widely used in some states in the 19th century. He collected wallpaper from various places, cut them into pages and bound them into 100 books. He then shipped them off to different libraries.