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Death, Society, and the Human Experience (9th Edition) 9th Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0205482627
ISBN-10: 0205482627
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This landmark text in death education draws on contributions from the social and behavioral sciences as well as the humanities, such as history, religion, philosophy, literature, and the arts, to provide thorough coverage of understanding death and the dying process.


The text focuses on both individual and societal attitudes and how they influence both how and when we die and how we live and deal with the knowledge of death and loss. Robert Kastenbaum is a renowned scholar in the field who developed one of the world's first death education courses and introduced the first text for this market.


New to this edition:

  • Terri Scihavo's long suspension between life and death, as seen from biomedical, political, religious, and social science perspectives.
  • Hurricane Katrina and how the United States dealt with issues relating to the deaths, alerting survivors, and more.
  • The catastrophic tsunami of December 26, 2004 and its impact on society.
  • A new section on 20th century genocide  in Cambodia, Germany, Russia, India, China, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Turkey has been added to Ch. 8.
  • Caregiver burnout and its prevention.
  • Evaluation of grief counseling.
  • The "green" funeral.
  • Islamic afterlife beliefs and their relationship to terrorism.
  • Concepts of heavens and hell are given expanded attention.
  • New research on the role of imaginary companions adds to the understanding of how children interpret death.
  • The "good death" in utopian societies.
  • The events of September 11, 2001, which were the focus of Ch. 1 in the eighth edition, have been integrated within the overall text.

About the Author

Bob Kastenbaum’s exploits as skating messenger apparently qualified him to become editor of two community newspapers, an eccentric career trajectory that somehow led to a graduate scholarship in philosophy and a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Southern California (1959). He was most interested in fields of psychological study that barely existed at the time: lifespan development and aging, time perspective, creativity, and death and dying. Kastenbaum became part of an emerging cadre that overcame the prevailing neglect and resistance to these issues. He worked in varied settings as clinician, researcher, activist, hospital administrator, educator, and author. The innovative programs he introduced into a geriatric hospital and his article, “The Reluctant Therapist” have been credited with preparing the way for increased attention to the needs and potentials of vulnerable elders and terminally ill people.  With Dick Kalish, he founded Omega, the first peer-reviewed journal focused on death-related issues.  Kastenbaum taught the first regularly-scheduled university course on death and dying and came up with the first textbook (Death, Society, & Human Experience, 1977). He also established the first university-based educational and research center on death and dying (Wayne State University, 1966).  His other books include The Psychology of Death  (1972, 1990, 2000); Dorian, Graying: Is Youth the Only Thing Worth Having?  (1995), and On Our Way. The Final Passage Through Life and Death (2004).  He has also served as editor of the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying,  (2993) and two previous encyclopedias.  In the public sphere he has served as a co-founder  of The National Caucus on Black Aging, consultant to the United States Senate Special Subcommittee on Aging, and participant in developing the Veterans Administration’s geriatric research and educational centers, and the landmark National Hospice Demonstration Project.  Kastenbaum lives in Tempe, Arizona with Bunny (wife), Angel (The Incredible Leaping Dog), enhanced by Pumpkin and Snowflake  in the cat department.  Along with his continuing research interests, Kastenbaum has been writing book and verse for musicals and operas. He notes that nobody has died in the two most recently premiered operas (Closing Time; American Gothic, music by Kenneth LaFave), but cannot make any such promises about the next opera.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Allyn & Bacon; 9 edition (April 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0205482627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0205482627
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,035,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is certainly information of value here, but the number of words and pages used to get the points across is far too many. In its attempt to be culturally inclusive it tries to be universal in its description of different death concepts, and I think you lose some depth of substance to the discussion this way.
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I purchased this volume for a college course and feel it is a must read for caring people. It is not written very well and could use gracious editing. But, the information is of so much value that I would highly recommend it!Death, Society, and the Human Experience (9th Edition)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The seller delivered the text in a timely fashion, in good condition as stated in the description. The book was in good condition, was the product I needed and was described accurately. Now, the text itself.

This academic text presents fact without standard peer reviewed research to back it. It is poorly organized, edited and uses very few standard grammatical conventions for a 300-400 level undergraduate course. It was required by my graduation path, or I would have dropped the course and returned the title the first two days. It really is the worst written, compiled and edited book I have ever read of any genre, and that isn't hyperbole. I wanted to gouge my eyes out to make it stop after 15 pages and that was the high point of my reading experience.
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Format: Paperback
Wow. This is a really boring textbook that merely rambles on and on without specificity. Much of what it talks about is talked about in a vacuum with random examples from all over the place. Kastenbaum is trying to talk about death in a way that is universal in structure and that is the first fallacy towards a boring text. This is old school structural-functionalist approach to writing about experience in the world.

Leave this book at the bookstore. Go for other texts.
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Format: Paperback
This textbook explores many issues that people do not want to discuss but the material is handled in a very sensitive manner. Coupled with 10 internet programs 30 minutes in length, this book will help you to make some life decisions as well as help you to discuss the material with others. Excellent book.
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