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DEATH & DYING BOOKS

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Stiff:
The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
By Mary Roach


An oddly compelling, often hilarious forensic exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For 2000 years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way. In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries—from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
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Books of the Dead:
Manuals for Living and Dying
By Stanislav Grof


The "art of dying" and the posthumous journey of the soul have been the subject of extensive literature and visualization in many cultures. "Dying before dying", or practice in dying, has been sought throughout human history, not just to overcome fear and give help at the moment of death, but actually to transfigure the quality of life. Stanislav Grof considers some of the most striking and important of the works known collectively as the "books of the dead": the ancient Egyptian funerary texts; the Tibetan Bardo Thodol; Maya and Aztec myths of death and rebirth. And from medieval Europe come the Christian visions of the soul's journeys, the danses macabres and dialogues with death, and meditational imagery of mortal decay that recalls Tibetan practices.
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Rest in Peace:
A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America
By Gary Laderman


Though it has often been passionately criticized--as fraudulent, exploitative--the American funeral home has become nearly as inevitable as death itself, an institution firmly embedded in our culture. But how did the funeral home come to hold such a position? What is its history? And is it guilty of the charges sometimes leveled against it? In Rest in Peace, Gary Laderman traces the origins of American funeral rituals, from the evolution of embalming techniques during and after the Civil War and the shift from home funerals to funeral homes at the turn of the century, to the increasing subordination of priests, ministers, and other religious figures to the funeral director throughout the twentieth century. In doing so he shows that far from manipulating vulnerable mourners, as Jessica Mitford claimed in her best-selling The American Way of Death (1962), funeral directors are highly respected figures whose services reflect the community's deepest needs and wishes. Indeed, Laderman shows that funeral directors generally give the people what they want when it is time to bury our dead. He reveals, for example, that the open casket, often criticized as barbaric, provides a deeply meaningful moment for friends and family who must say goodbye to their loved one. But he also shows how the dead often come back to life in the popular imagination to disturb the peace of the living. Drawing upon interviews with funeral directors, major historical events like the funerals of John F. Kennedy and Rudolf Valentino, films, television, newspaper reports, proposals for funeral reform, and other primary sources, Rest in Peace cuts through the rhetoric to show us the reality--and the real cultural value--of the American funeral.
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Sleeping Beauty II:
Grief, Bereavement in Memorial Photography American and European Traditions
By Elizabeth A. Burns, Stanley B. Burns


The proprietor and curator of the Burns Archive, a large collection of early medical and 19th-century documentary photography in New York, Stanley Burns and his daughter, Elizabeth, have produced a sumptuous volume of beautifully reproduced postmortem photographs, expanding on his 1991 volume. Photographs from 15 countries, ranging from the earliest daguerreotypes to present-day color snapshots, show that since the invention of photography survivors have sought to fix their memory of deceased loved ones. These disturbing and strangely beautiful images depict children and adults, famous people and those buried en masse, as well as advertising photographs for a mortuary, a World War I German grave marker, and an Afghan hound in its satin-lined casket. Carrying on the tradition, Burns and his brother are photographed in 1995 with their deceased father, and some photographs depict the communal grieving that resulted from the 2001 World Trade Center bombing, capturing posters, prayer walls, and memorials. With essays and picture titles in both French and English, this book is comprehensive and unique.
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Straight to Hell:
50 Great Suicides of the 20th Century
By Namida King


A voyeuristic look at some of the most shocking and spectacular suicides of modern times by celebrities or those who achieved notoriety by the sheer nature, scale or political repercussions of their fatal actions. From singers Kurt Cobain and Ian Curtis, to writer Ernest Hemingway, artist Mark Rothko, serial killer Fred West, Adolf Hitler and Yukio Mishima, this is a unique, illustrated catalogue of self-inflicted death. Heavily illustrated with often disturbing images of human carnage, Straight to Hell is a unique exploration of some of the most shocking, scandalous, and bizarre acts of self-annihilation in recent times. Contributors include Mikita Brottman, Jack Sargeant, Nikolas Schreck, Stephen Barber and Jeremy Reed.
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American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003:
An Illustrated History
By Walterm M.P. McCall


The most complete, in-depth book on hearses and funeral cars ever! Beginning with horse drawn, highly ornate hearses up to today's motorized vehicles, this book takes you through the complete history of 20th Century hearses. Follow the overall style development from the early carved-panel columned and draped designs, through the limousine-styled Funeral Coach and side-loaders, through the sleek designs that have led to today's hearses. Photos and history on large and small hearse-builders and the growth and decline of many of these companies. Over 300 high quality photos combined with in-depth text... a must have book for all enthusiasts.
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The Art of Suicide
By Ron M. Brown


Desperate pursuits are illustrated in this scholarly look at the depiction of self-murder in painting and other visual forms, from Rembrandt's Lucretia to the tawdry engravings in Victorian England's Illustrated Police News to the more abstract representations by Man Ray and Warhol. Studying the Didos and Judases and Ophelias depicted over the last two millennia, Ron M. Brown, a teaching fellow in the Faculty of Health and Environment at Leeds University in Britain, analyzes the competing cultural perceptions of, and moral questions regarding, suicide in the Western world, from the heroic suicides of antiquity to the 20th century's clinical cases.
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The American Way of Death Revisited
By Jessica Mitford


The American Way of Death Revisited is almost unforgivably funny. Jessica Mitford's exposé of the funeral industry, a #1 bestseller upon first publication, is a model of muckraking--an almost incredible description of how undertakers in the U.S. assault people's souls and wallets. Before her death in 1996, Mitford devoted most of her energy to this revised edition of her masterwork, which zeroes in on funeral prepayment, the new multinational funeral corporations, and the Federal Trade Commission's failure to enforce the laws the first edition of this book helped bring about. The book's greatest treasure is probably her shocking and hilarious description of exactly what happens in the process of embalming.
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When We Die:
The Science, Culture, and Rituals of Death
By Cedric A. Mims


Microbiologist and world traveler Cedric Mims writes, "We should accept it and talk about it more than we do--as we have done with the once taboo subject of sex." To that end, he has written When We Die: The Science, Culture, and Rituals of Death and started the conversation with wit and grace. Covering the physical facts and metaphysical beliefs concerning our last exits, Mims shows us that not all is dark and dreary, or even peaceful, on "the other side." The broad, largely untouched topic offers much fascinating material: cannibalism, organ transplants, mummification, and euthanasia all receive their due. Mims explores questions such as "Are corpses dangerous?" and "Who owns a dead body?" from many perspectives, drawing on his extensive reading and travels to create an intricate mosaic of answers.
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The Death and Afterlife Book:
The Encyclopedia of Death, Near Death, and Life After Death
By James R. Lewis


Popular, historical and cultural aspects of death and the hereafter are explored and explained, including heaven, hell, reincarnation, communication with the dead and the rise of spiritualism, deathbed visions, the hospice movement and many other items. Forward by Raymond Moody. The Death and Afterlife Book considers the evidence and relates thousands of years of belief and understanding on a topic that's inevitably of interest to all.
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A Morning's Work:
Medical Photographs from the Burns Archive & Collection, 1843-1939
By Stanley Burns


Burns is an ophthamlic surgeon, but his true passion is vintage photography. He has assembled a collection of more than half a million images and has authored works on memorial photography, medical photography, and hand-colored daguerreotypes. Here he presents 127 images in as many pages and then another 50 or so pages of notes, providing specifics of the photographs and extensive discussion of the condition or medical practices shown. More than a few gruesome images are included, though the warm tones of the printing and the antique dress have an anesthetizing effect on the viewer. There are also a good number of images depicting obsolete mid-19th-century practices. The chronological arrangement does impart a sense of progress as we move from images of horrible deformity through pictures of amputation during the Civil War to photos of reparative surgery following World War I.
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What a Way to Go:
Fabulous Funerals of the Famous and Infamous
By Adele Q. Brown


A&E Biography meets Tales from the Crypt in this fun but respectful survey of the amazing lives and astonishing funerals of two dozen 20th-century icons from politics, art, and pop culture. In more than 50 rare photographs and thoroughly researched profiles, it showcases all the colorful details of each subject's death, funeral service, and burial. From Muppet creator Jim Henson's upbeat service, attended by Big Bird, to Babe Ruth lying in state at Yankee Stadium as vendors sold hot dogs to waiting mourners--it's all here, the moving and the macabre. JFK, Notorious B.I.G., Elvis Presley, Chairman Mao, Eva Peron, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and many more find fitting tribute in this compulsively readable, visually lavish, richly entertaining celebration of our enduring fascination with the famous and the strange pageantry of their demise.
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The Hollywood Book of Death:
The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More than 125 American Movie and TV Idols
By James Robert Parish


The death of a celebrity is often as fascinating as--and sometimes more fascinating than--a star's actual life. From the grisly end of Sharon Tate at the hands of the Manson family and the mysterious demise of Bob Crane to the peaceful passings of Lucille Ball and George Burns, The Hollywood Book of Death is a captivating and appealingly packaged volume of more than 125 television and movie stars' final curtain calls. Arranged in an encyclopedic approach by manner of death, these accounts include details of celebrities' colorful lives and unusual deaths, their funerals, and the intriguing aftermath. With more than 100 rare photographs and a special "necrology" index of more than 6,000 stars and their resting places.
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Buried Alive:
The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear
By Jan Bondeson


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Corpses, Coffins and Crypts:
A History of Burial
By Penny Colman


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Death to Dust:
What Happens to Dead Bodies?
By Kenneth V. Iserson


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Dying to Know:
About Death, Funeral Customs, and Final Resting Places
By Lila Perl


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Encyclopedia of Death and Dying
By Glennys Howarth, Oliver Leaman


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The Bedside Book of Death
By Robert Wilkins


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What Happens When You Die:
From Your Last Breath to the First Spadeful
By Robert T. Hatch


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What is Death?:
A Scientist Looks at the Cycle of Life
By Tyler Volk


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Death and Bereavement Across Cultures
By Colin Murray Parkes


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Death and the Afterlife:
A Cultural Encyclopedia
By Richard P. Taylor


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Death:
The Great Mystery of Life
By Herbie Brennan


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Modern Mummies:
The Preservation of the Human Body in the Twentieth Century
By Christine Quigley


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In Search of the Immortals:
Mummies, Death and the Afterlife
By Howard Reid


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Earthly Remains:
The History and Science of Preserved Human Bodies
By Michael Parker Pearson


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The Archaeology of Death and Burial
By Mike Parker Pearson


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Skulls and Skeletons:
Human Bone Collections and Accumulations
By Christine Quigley


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On Death and Dying
By Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


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Morbid Curiosity:
Celebrity Tombstones Across America
By Elaine McCarthy


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New Orleans Cemeteries:
Life in the Cities of the Dead
By Robert Florence


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Saving Graces:
Images of Women European Cemeteries
By David Robinson


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Soul in the Stone:
Cemetery Art from America's Heartland
By John Gary Brown


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Going Out in Style:
The Architecture of Eternity
By Douglas Keister


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Purified by Fire:
A History of Cremation in America
By Stephen Prothero


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Profits of Death:
An Insider Exposes the Death Care Industries
By Darryl J. Roberts


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Psyche and Death:
Death-Demons in Folklore, Myths and Modern Dreams
By Edgar Herzog


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Representations of Childhood Death
By Gillian Avery


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The Victorian Celebration of Death
By James Stevens Curl


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History of Suicide:
Voluntary Death in Western Culture
By Georges Minois


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Final Exit:
The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Sucide for the Dying
By Derek Humphry


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Freedom to Die:
People, Politics, and the Right-To-Die Movement
By Derek Humphry


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The Pagan Book of Living and Dying
By Starhawk


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The Tibetan Book of the Dead
By Padma Sambhava, Robert A. Thurman


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The Egyptian Book of the Dead
By Raymond Faulkner


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Greek and Roman Necromancy
By Daniel Ogden


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Israel's Beneficent Dead:
Ancestor Cult and Necromancy in Ancient Israelite Religion and Tradition
By Brian B. Schmidt


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Typhoid Mary:
An Urban Historical
By Anthony Bourdain


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Unpleasant Ways to Die
By Elan Fleisher


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Related pages:
Leilah Wendell      True Crime


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