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A Wonderful Life: 50 Eulogies to Lift the Spirit Hardcover – May 12, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (May 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125117
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,275,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Collected and edited by former advertising executive Copeland (Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of Our Time), these 50 eulogies range from the merely functional (Alfred Kinsey's secretary's perfunctory commemoration) to the truly moving and inspirational (Father Michael Duffy's eulogy for New York's fallen fire department chaplain Father Mychal Judge). But most of the time Copeland strains to find words that resonate and uplift. In too many cases they simply fail to do so or, worse, seem exploitative. Dan Aykroyd's flip words about his drug-addicted comedy partner John Belushi—"What we are talking about here is a good man and a bad boy "—make light of the devastation Belushi's behavior wreaked on those around him. On the other hand, eulogies delivered for four victims of 9/11 are heartfelt and serious. They bear witness to sacrifice and honor. Their inclusion, in contrast to the exceedingly lightweight nature of other excerpts, feels manipulative. Copeland follows each eulogy with a brief, sometimes a bit eccentric chronological sketch (on Freud: "Attending Sigmund's birth, a peasant woman predicts his greatness"). In some cases these facts are more interesting than the platitudes that precede them. B&w photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

" How do you make good, in words, on the life of another human being? The real challenge of the task is evident on every page....A fascinating collection of memorial remarks about 64 well-known figures." -- "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"

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Customer Reviews

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At the end, I walked away more inspired to live life to its fullest and celebrate my time in this world!
Alan in NYC
Be sure to check out the chapter devoted to parents, which includes my favorite eulogy: Pat Conroy's remembrance of his father, aka the Great Santini.
Book Lover
These portraits of notable people are exceptionally interesting and moving, but, above all, I came away from the book inspired.
L.B.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on May 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a book of eulogies to people who made their lives count, from Bette Davis to Rosa Parks to an achingly poignant chapter on the heroes of 9/11. Reading this book, I expected to be saddened but instead found it strangely uplifing.

Be sure to check out the chapter devoted to parents, which includes my favorite eulogy: Pat Conroy's remembrance of his father, aka the Great Santini.

Other great eulogies: Marilyn Monroe, Greogory Peck, Edward R. Murrow, Mickey Mantle, Jerry Garcia, Coretta Scott King, Bob Hope, Princess Diana, Judy Garland, and Mister Rogers!

Warning: Reading this book will make you re-evaluate your own life....
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tom Kelly on August 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I expected this book to move me -- after all, saying goodbye to 50 people who shaped our world for the better, cracking their lives open at the last minute by someone who knew them well enough to speak personally -- that's heady stuff. And eulogies aren't exactly fluffy fare. What surprised me was how much this book succeeds by its subtitle, not just lifting the spirit, but throwing down the gauntlet and making death into a celebration of life.

More, a celebration of 50 icons who shaped our world. (And throw in a few truly moving tributes to parents -- read the one Pat Conroy delivered for his father, The Great Santini, for an example of how to say goodbye to a difficult man. Brilliant. Honest. And resplendent with the kind of love that only comes from family, which is to say unconditional in the face of flaws.) Reading about Marilyn, Murrow, and everyone from Bette Davis to Mickey Mantle, one is flooded with a genuine sense of relief that they've been here to make our world a more colorful place. These eulogies are fairly intimate, drawing aside the curtain of celebrity and offfering a final look at the humanity of our icons.

Great eulogies don't drip with sentiment, and Copeland has combed through the great goodbyes from the las century or so to come up with a shiny handful of gems -- some funny, some irreverent, some heartrending, all poignant. Standouts include Father Mychal Judge, Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mantle, FDNY Captain Callahan, Katharine Graham, Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Garcia, Martin Luther King, and Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

The book has a lovely feel to it, and makes for either a quick coffee read -- 5 minutes at a time, including fascinating timelines for each icon -- or a primer in how to eulogize, or else a wonderful gift for someone who's just lost someone dear and could use a reminder: Death heightens the beauty of life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tanman on July 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
about each person eulogized in this book...

I loved this book - simple, to the point, uplifting and inspirational. But what really struck me most was that you don't read this book with a heavy heart but rather with a desire to gain insight into people that we either knew much about or very little. One of my favorites was the eulogy written for Father Mychal Judge who died in the World Trade Towers on 9/11. Tugged at the heart, yes, but I was enlightened to learn more about what kind of person he truly was - right to the end.

You might not sit and read this book straight through...although it's hard to put down once you get started. I found it to be a great 'cup of coffee read' time and time again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alan in NYC on August 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the second volume of eulogies compiled by Copeland and I was inspired equally by both books. I experienced the eulogies as mini-biographies, as wonderful tributes, as lessons in life. As might be expected, some of the eulogies are more powerful than others. I especially enjoyed the eulogies of MLK, Ghandi, Leonard Bernstein, Ed Murrow and Mychal Judge. Reading the eulogies as a whole helped me to reflect on the ways people live their lives, define relationships, decide what is important and engage themselves. At the end, I walked away more inspired to live life to its fullest and celebrate my time in this world!
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