Monday, July 9, 2012

The American Way of Death

1963, undated Fawcett Crest edition that seems to be not long after that
Jessica Mitford
The American Way of Death
Original price $1.50, purchase price unknown
Very worn paperback with split spine

Mitford's examination of the American funeral business (with glimpses of the U.K. as well) gave a voice to families who felt exploited by morticians and "the allied industries."  It's still a pretty good read, although Mitford's humour is more restrained than in her other works.  The book is of course dated in the amounts per funeral-- the average casket now costs $2000-- but Mitford did update her research with her posthumously published The American Way of Death Revisited, which I remember getting from the library years ago.  And it's heartening to see that there are some consumer websites advising bereaved families, so it remains (sorry) a significant topic.

Mitford sisters note:  in her Acknowledments, she thanks Nancy and Deborah, who "contributed a certain amount of misinformation on the subject."

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