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The American Way of Death Revisited Paperback – January 4, 2000
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The American Way of Death Revisited is almost unforgivably funny. Jessica Mitford's exposé of the funeral industry, a number one 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 chapter is titled "Pay Now--Die Poorer"), the new multinational funeral corporations ("A Global Village of the Dead"), 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. Equally impressive, however, is her chapter called "The Nosy Clergy," which describes the collusion and competition between America's undertakers and its preachers. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
At the time of her death in 1996, Mitford had nearly completed this revision of her 1963 bestseller, a scathing critique of the U.S. funeral industry. Extensively revised, with subsequent additions by her husband, lawyer Robert Treuhaft, Lisa Carlson, an activist in the funeral-reform movement, and research assistant Karen Leonard, Mitford's mordant look at the excesses of the high-pressure salesmanship and lapses of taste of the "death-care industry" still rings true, and the book will evoke readers' ire. Mitford identifies disturbing new trends: cremation, once a low-cost option, has become increasingly expensive as mortuaries pressure the bereaved to buy a "traditional" funeral with all the accoutrements. Monopolistic companies have moved into the field and now account for 20% of the nation's funerals. Furthermore, she charges, the Federal Trade Commission's lax enforcement of its 1984 rule banning morticians' deceptive practices has contributed to an upward spiral of prices and profits. Other developments of the 1990s perceptively analyzed here include the refusal of many funeral directors to embalm AIDS victims and the growing popularity of low-cost funeral and memorial service organizations, which are listed in an appendix.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Jessica Mitford's exposé of the funeral industry is shocking for an outsider. While I have always suspected this industry was a racket like no other, I was still blown away by facts in this book.
While I tend to clump Jessica with Mary Roach, they are different in their approach however both will totally dominate the subject matter while leaving you with a giant grin. Jessica was not as straight-forward in her humor as Mary. She used a more subtle approach. Still yet, what a wonderful writer we had that could take a sad and creepy business and make it a funny read. I'm simply greatly impressed by her talent.
I understand that the original edition of this book was paramount in enacting changes in the industry. Hopefully, someone will pick up her mantle and carry forward.
I hope you find my opinion helpful.
Michael L. Gooch, SPHR
Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today's Business Leaders
It took me a couple of tries to get through this book.