In the early 1960s this classic work of investigative journalism was a number one bestseller. The savage and hilarious analysis of America's funeral practices rocked the industry and shocked the public. This up-dated edition (revised just before the author's death) shows that if anything the industry has become more pernicious than ever in its assault on our practices and wallets. And it's an industry that - alas - sooner or later affects us all.
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(153mm x 201mm x 20mm)
Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
In 1963 Mitford tore the American Funeral Industry to shreds with 'The American Way of Death'. This update is no less sensational, with its continuing revelations of costly funeral products designed to 'dazzle the mourners and facilitate the plunder of the next kin'. American funeral directors live in a world of their own, deleting the word 'death' from their vocabulary and constantly publishing 'insider' lists of what sister Nancy Mitford would have called 'U' and 'non U' words. A hearse is no longer a hearse but a 'casket coach'. A grave is an 'internet space'. Embalming is still shrouded in total secrecy - untenable in an age when we can watch surgical operations on our televisions. But the most significant event since the 1963 book has been the emergence of monopolies, in particular: Instead of bringing the expected lower prices, they have raised prices and instigated the 'hard sell'. In a chapter on 'Funerals in England' the author fears that 'McDeath' has already crossed the Atlantic in the form of the Texan SCI group, bringing a host of unnecessary artefacts and high pressure sales techniques.Mitford's fears are largely unfounded. Currently SCI (UK) have abandoned American methods and have rapidly restructured. This book is always going to need updating. It's a truism in funeral services that in an industry where things appear to be going very slowly on the surface, underneath, procedures, customs and practices are continually on the move. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Jessica Mitford
Jessica Mitford (1917-1996), sister of Nancy Mitford, was born in England and emigrated to America in 1939. She wrote six books and enjoyed a splendid reputation as a muckraking journalist. She died in 1996 in Oakland, California.