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The American Way of Death Revisited Paperback – January 4, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Most of the text in this version of the book comes verbatim from the 1960-ish original. But scattered throughout are occasional paragraphs and sequences that are new. The main problem is that there is usually no indication of which paragraphs are which: at any given time, "now" could be 1960 or 1996. Since the original book included a lot of chronologically comparative material, you can never tell while reading this book if the paragraph you're on is comparing 1996 with 1960 or 1960 with the first half of the century. You often can't tell whether "$1,000" means $1,000 in 1960 or 1996. It's a basic and pervasive error, and one that prevented me from getting what I wanted out of the book (I was curious to know what had changed since the first edition was published).
Leaving all that aside, however, it's still a must-read, for several reasons: its deft, humorous writing, its information about the funeral industry, and its apparently broad influence on American culture. However, I'd suggest reading the original version. Judging from "Revisited", there's nothing much new under the sun: cremations are up, florists are less dependent on funerals, and funeral directors are just as weasily as ever.
"The American Way of Death Revisited" provides a wealth of information, presented in a tactful and witty manner, to prepare anyone for "battle" with the funeral industry in the event of a loved one's death. It is clear and thorough without being ghoulish or flippant.
Read it now before you need it!
Mitford was known as the Original Muckraker for her habit of always speaking the truth, calling a spade a spade, and for probing into the cozy relationship between politicians, morticians, monopolistic ownership policies, the FTC, and federal lobbyists.
Interesting, updated, still drop dead (pun intended) funny, endlessly informative, witty and well-written with refreshing bluntness, The American Way of Death once again deserves to be read by everyone. And there's a terrific and informative appendix at the end.
Mitford's writing is enjoyable in its own right. Her description of what happens during enbalming is downright poetic and her witty put-downs of funeral directors (who are by turns whiney, self-justifying victims and sly exploiters of the emotionally distraught). She also gives ample evidence of being an intrepid and relentless researcher; she seems to take special delight in being able to quote some of the nasty things funeral directors have said publicly about her personally.
While Mitford gives some good advice on how to plan for the disposal of a loved-one (avoid making pre-need funeral arrangements; know that most funeral homes have a "don't walk" policy which means they will come down in price if you try to walk out during the negotiations; enbalming isn't necessary or required by law; consider cremation without burial; contact your local not-for-profit funeral and memorial society), this is not "Funeral Planning for Dummies." It's more of a critique of American culture on the par with other great social activist writers of the 1960s and 70s, Vance Packard, Ralph Nader, and Tom Wolfe. Read, gasp, guffaw, and generally enjoy!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's written by a powerful writer and researcher. Learned a lot. Also read her American Way of Birth, which convinced me to have my children at home with a midwife.Published 5 days ago by Better Way
A must for every consumer and wish it could be updated regularly. This is another strong example of how an industry exploits the country and the people.Published 10 days ago by bobbie sue
Very dry and pretty difficult to maintain my interest. Reviews I read said it was funny but I'm not really seeing funny here. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Gail Simburger
People need to read this long BEFORE they are faced with funereal business. I'm fortunate in that I live in a small town with a locally-owned, secind generation funeral home. Read morePublished 1 month ago by shopgirl
Very well researched book and very funny in parts... It uses facts, and not the opinions of the author. Read morePublished 1 month ago by odonabit
Awesome book! Very interesting read with good information.Published 2 months ago by Elizabeth Jones
It's a good and fun educational read for understanding the history of the mortuary industry, and how it evolved to make money for itself by selling us things we never needed. Read morePublished 7 months ago by netmouse