Cover

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CONTENTS

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pp. v-vi

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CHAPTER ONE: GETTING DEAD

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pp. 1-30

ON A NOVEMBER EVENING IN 1998, a national television audience watched Thomas Youk die at his home in Waterford, Michigan. He did not expect millions to witness his death, but his attending physician thought it was a good idea. Youk actually died several months before the broadcast, ...

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CHAPTER TWO: EXIT STRATEGIES

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pp. 31-61

A COMPASSIONATE PHYSICIAN once remarked that in his neonatal intensive care unit “no one dies in pain and no one dies alone.” That was his policy: humane, honest, straightforward. But it is not that simple, as he knew. Like birth and marriage, death is ritually dense in all cultures, creating occasions when belief and ritual are as present and as important as the physician’s ...

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CHAPTER THREE: THE BODY AS RELIC

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pp. 62-85

AUTOPSIES AND DISSECTION were part of medical training in Bologna as early as 1280. The medieval physicians and their students who studied there were not the only ones with an interest in anatomy, however. Caroline Walker Bynum, who has written extensively on religious beliefs associated ...

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CHAPTER FOUR: SOULSCAPES

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pp. 86-128

THE ENGLISH DISSENTERS who beached at Cape Cod in 1620 arrived well prepared. Packed into a ship previously used in the wine trade were their clothes, tools, pots, seeds, and a store of “victuals” sufficient for a return. On board, too, was a distinctive vision of divinity and an explicit notion of humankind’s place in this life and that to come. Since then, Americans have ...

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CHAPTER FIVE: PASSING IT ON

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pp. 129-151

THE IDEA THAT CHILDREN know so little about death that they need a book to understand it is a modern conceit.1 It seems improbable that a hundred years ago, when America was predominantly agricultural, anyone would have offered a book on death to farm children whose chores included beheading and plucking chickens. Nor is it likely that books would be needed ...

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CHAPTER SIX: IN OUR HEARTS FOREVER

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pp. 152-186

WHAT DOES IT MEAN to memorialize those who have died? Lincoln’s famous eulogy for the dead at Gettysburg was spare, somber, and modest: “We cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated ...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: THE FUTURE OF DEATH

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pp. 187-202

THE AMERICAN WAY OF DEATH, as Mitford described it in 1963, is not what it was then. Her broadside against the funeral industry raised an important consumer issue but hardly told the whole story. Nor does Kübler- Ross’s depiction of dying a “good death” fit well with current realities. There ...

NOTES

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pp. 203-234

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 235-254

INDEX

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pp. 255-258

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. 259-259