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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant.
This is a wonderful book and I thoroughly recommend it. It covers how (and more importantly why) things have changed over the last century - our attitudes to death and funerals. It has wonderful sentences that stick in your mind for you to think about until another jewel appears on the next page! Highly recommended.
Published on 27 Mar 2006

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great catalogue, but lacking insight
From the rise of the Victorian rituals celebrating death, through the burial of death beneath sex in the sixties, to the new fin de siècle "pornography of death", this is an intriguing and encyclopaedic look at the way the western world's view of death changed throughout the twentieth century.

The organisation of the book is thematic, rather than...
Published on 9 Jan 2007 by S. Bailey


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great catalogue, but lacking insight, 9 Jan 2007
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S. Bailey "will work for books" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
From the rise of the Victorian rituals celebrating death, through the burial of death beneath sex in the sixties, to the new fin de siècle "pornography of death", this is an intriguing and encyclopaedic look at the way the western world's view of death changed throughout the twentieth century.

The organisation of the book is thematic, rather than chronological. While this undoubtedly suits Berridge's informal style and frequently anecdotal evidence, I can't help feeling that at times, it allowed much interesting material and consideration to slip between the cracks. Foremost amongst this was the story of her father, a First World War hero, to which she alluded in various places throughout the book, but whose story was never quite told in full. Even in the 'No More Heroes Any More' section, concerning the changes wrought by the Great War in mourning dress and other customs, we lacked any real insight into the psychology of those who returned from the battlefields and wanted only to forget.

The other pivotal point in the century, which pushed us as a society back to recognising death's place amongst us was the death in 1997 of Diana Princess of Wales. This section was certainly longer; with Diana's death still featuring at least weekly in the British tabloid press, it could hardly have been otherwise. Berridge draws numerous interesting parallels between the events of 1997 and the death of Princess Charlotte in 1817: and while it is amusing for those of us who cringed at The Sun's headline "SPEAK TO US, MA'AM" to see that public comments were also in demand 170 years earlier, what is sadly lacking is any explanation of just why Diana's death hit this country and the world so hard.

I could go on. The death industry has been turned over to big business, but lately more people are demanding freedom of choice and 'alternative' rites. The internet, with coffins to be purchased online and 'memorial' sites to the dead, is changing the funerary landscape forever. Berridge exhaustively catalogues all of these things, but her book sadly seems to lack any thought for the reasons behind the changes of the last century. Sadly, it's an opportunity missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant., 27 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This is a wonderful book and I thoroughly recommend it. It covers how (and more importantly why) things have changed over the last century - our attitudes to death and funerals. It has wonderful sentences that stick in your mind for you to think about until another jewel appears on the next page! Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dead Good Book!, 19 Nov 2002
This highly original and thought-provoking book is quite unlike anything else I have read this year. The wealth of detail is impressive, and Kate Berridge displays a refreshingly open and honest attitude towards what she argues is a ridiculously taboo subject.
I particularly enjoyed the chapters Death and the Salesmen, where the reader is treated to a rich history of funeral customs right up to the present day, and Esprit de Corpse, where Berridge details some of the most individual and original funerals you can imagine.
Definitely a must for anyone who is interested in the subject.
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Vigor Mortis: From Fear to Fashion - Discarding the Death Taboo
Vigor Mortis: From Fear to Fashion - Discarding the Death Taboo by Kate Berridge (Hardcover - 31 Aug 2001)
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