From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Harris's case for an eco-friendly burial is also an argument for a graceful and productive afterlife. Avoiding embalming keeps funeral waste out of our sewers, while burial in a shroud or cardboard coffin saves trees; these approaches can also bring the living back in touch with the cycle of life, he argues. Following in the footsteps of Jessica Mitford (author of The American Way of Death), Harris discusses the ways in which Americans have shifted care of the dead out of the hands and homes of friends and family as he tours various burial options, from the most environmentally intrusive to the least. His graphic description of an embalming offers a sharp contrast to a burial in a biodegradable coffin in a nature reserve, where the decaying body will help restore the environment. Embalming is also expensive ($12,376) compared to burial in an artificial reef (between $995 and $4,995 after the $1,800 cremation). Acknowledging that burial requires a series of difficult decisions in the midst of devastating emotions, this practical, powerful and affirming book succeeds as a survey of burial methods, a collection of true stories and a resource guide. (Jan.)
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*Starred Review* In the face of the billion-dollar-a-year funeral industry, former environmental columnist Harris advocates green (i.e., chemical-free) burial, a concept that is gaining momentum among aging baby boomers. His slender tome is chockablock with information on a variety of burial options, the majority of them environmentally friendly. For many, the only options they thought were available involved choosing between a mahogany casket and a brass casket. Through his detailed if grisly explanation of the currently popular embalming and interment process, Harris just may open up entirely new discussions among family members whenever the topic of burial is broached. Indeed, after reading this book, many may find it impossible to make such decisions casually, whether they are planning their own mortal destinies or are engaged in the emotion-wrought decisions incumbent upon the passings of loved ones. They may consider it worse to leave everything in the hands of a funeral-home owner. Including specifics about probable cost, availability, and location regarding a number of green burial options (names and addresses of some sources and providers are given), Harris has created a well-organized, valuable resource for anyone considering the disposition of their own or a loved one's earthly remains. Donna Chavez
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