The American Way of Death Revisited

By Jessica Mitford,

Book cover of The American Way of Death Revisited

Book description

Only the scathing wit and searching intelligence of Jessica Mitford could turn an exposé of the American funeral industry into a book that is at once deadly serious and side-splittingly funny. When first published in 1963, this landmark of investigative journalism became a runaway bestseller and resulted in legislation to…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The American Way of Death Revisited as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book is a classic for a reason. It’s a sobering (and deeply entertaining) look at the industry of death.

With so few universal truths, one would imagine that humanity’s shared capacity to understand our own mortality would be a source of connection. Instead, it feels like the mechanics of death and everything surrounding it, get shoved under the carpet in our desperation to avoid the topic.

As Mitford lifts the veil on the funeral industry, it becomes apparent how important it is to shine a light on the things we’re most afraid of.

This is the classic, the moment at which the industrialization of death—like so much else in our lives—was made visible. And it was the start of a social movement to reclaim death as part of our social, interconnected lives. Mitford focused on the funeral industry, and how it turned death into a commodity – ‘ashes’ isn’t a good word because people would scatter them, but call them ‘human remains’ and you can charge to put them somewhere. Death often makes people feel remorse, even guilt – ah! That can be ‘satisfied’ by the purchase of a fine funeral. 

Mitford closed…

From Barbara's list on death and dying.

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