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The Last Word: The New York Times Book of Obituaries and Farewells Paperback – December 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Quill (HarperCollins); First Edition edition (December 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688166377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688166373
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

It is nearly impossible to name a favorite farewell among the 100 honored in this compilation of obituaries (few if any famous names are included). In his foreword, Russell Baker takes a light, reverential approach to the obits that follow. Among those honored is Jerry Siegel, who created Superman, eventually a billion-dollar industry, and who sold the rights to the man from Krypton for $130. Then there's Elizabeth Paepcke, the artistic-minded developer of Aspen, who, among her many aspirations, sought to weed the mountains of thistles, and Immaculata Cuomo, mother of the former New York governor. Taken collectively, these obituaries are like a hallelujah chorus, praising the accomplishments of the living. Editor Siegel, assistant to the managing editor of the New York Times, and all the obit writers whose work appears here deserve a similar chorus of thanks.?Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., Ind.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

This weighty and enlightening volume ... is nectar to those of us who consider the obituary to be not merely an art form but one of the few art forms that have remained coherent enough to demand any measure of obedience. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert Richmond on March 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I teach Memoir Writing to local seniors and I routinely use this book as an example of outstanding biography. It's one thing to write a 250 word bio but quite another, and much more demanding, to pen a few-hundred-word last goodbye to someone and do it with panache. The NY Times has three books of obituaries, this is the most recent. The quality of the writing is, in many cases, superior to anything in the rest of the newspaper(all the obits here were published in the Times). I especially like the reviews of Robert McG Thomas, who died within the past year at age 60. His obituaries deserved a Pulitzer. His obits are worth the price of the book. Everybody deserves a last word. These obits are not just about famous people but about average joes and janes who have been extraordinary human beings. I'd even recommend this book for spiritual reading because the lives here are inspirational. I teach writing and am always on the lookout for examples of prose that will knock my socks off. This is one helluva book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Galia Berry on August 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Rather than an ode to death, this book cherishes lives onced lived by all kinds of people. Whether brilliant or simple, rich or poor, actions great or discreet, each of the people written about contributed to society in a meaningful (and often surprising) way. Equally outstanding are the authors of these obituaries, whose writing talents manage to entertain, educate and move the reader deeply without being maudlin. Even more importantly, this book forces us to examine our own lives: what will people say about us when we've faced our Maker? For those of us who come up pitifully short, this book inspires even the common man to contribute to society, and strive for -- and hopefully, attain -- spiritual immortality.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 6, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You wouldn't think a book of obituaries would be entertaining, but it is when the obits are well-written and celebrate the lives and characters of the 100+ people found in this collection. The subjects are most often unknown to the majority of us, but the various authors (including well-known NYT obituary author Robert McG. Thomas, Jr.) humanize each subject and inspire you to contemplate your own life. Most essays are a couple of pages long, and there is an introduction by Russell Baker.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A delightful collection of lives which I read cover to cover in one sitting. Offers a fascinating glimpse of la comedie humaine--often witty, sometimes sad, always remarkable.
I was turned onto this book when it was selected for the Book-of-the-Month Club--I cannot recommend it enough to anyone interested in the lives of others. A great gift.
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