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Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpsesby Bess Lovejoy
Synopses & Reviews
A writer and researcher behind the bestselling Schott’s Almanac brings us a delightfully macabre collection of morbid curiosities: tales of what happened to famous people after they died.
From Alexander the Great (whose corpse founded a dynasty) to RenÉ Descartes (whose skull was separated from his body) and Dorothy Parker (whose ashes were hidden in a filing cabinet for more than a decade), some of the most influential and interesting people in history have journeyed on posthumous adventures none of them could have predicted.
Rest in Pieces catalogs stories from the age of antiquity to today, tracing the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death and connecting the lives of the famous deceased to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses. Jim Thorpe’s body renamed a city in Pennsylvania. Einstein’s brain took a road trip across America. And Osama bin Laden’s corpse was lost among the waves—until a California treasure hunter claimed to find it.
More than a rich and satisfying source of inappropriate cocktail chatter, Rest in Pieces uses its novel perspective to reveal the lives of the world's most interesting people, and to help us understand the Grim Reaper a little better.
"Repeatedly illustrating with a hearseload of case studies that 'final resting place' is a relative term, Lovejoy (a contributing writer for the Schott's Almanac series) digs up a litany of strange-but-true tales of the postmortem adventures of all manner of famous corpses throughout history. In many cases, the cadavers or their skeletons were left intact, but others weren't so lucky — Napoleon and Rasputin reportedly both lost their penises after death (and for the record, Dillinger's is not at the Smithsonian). The fate of some bodies, such as those of Ted Williams, Lenin, Eva PerÃ³n, and Hunter S. Thompson, are fairly well-known, but readers will be surprised to learn the story behind the disappearance of Geronimo's skull (as well as its alleged link to the Bush family) and the curious travels of Dorothy Parker's remains (both the Algonquin Hotel and the New Yorker passed on hosting them until, via a bizarre and circuitous route, the NAACP stepped forward and claimed them). Buoyed by rigorous research and wry humor, Lovejoy's compilation is sure to fuel more than a few cocktail party conversations. B&w illus. throughout. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
IN THE LONG RUN, WERE ALL DEAD.
But for some of the most influential figures in history, death marked the start of a new adventure.
The famous deceased have been stolen, burned, sold, pickled, frozen, stuffed, impersonated, and even filed away in a lawyers office. Their fingers, teeth, toes, arms, legs, skulls, hearts, lungs, and nether regions have embarked on voyages that crisscross the globe and stretch the imagination.
Counterfeiters tried to steal Lincolns corpse. Einsteins brain went on a cross-country road trip. And after Lord Horatio Nelson perished at Trafalgar, his sailors submerged him in brandy—which they drank.
From Mozart to Hitler, Rest in Pieces connects the lives of the famous dead to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses, and traces the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death.
About the Author
Bess Lovejoy is a writer, researcher, and editor based in Brooklyn. She worked on the Schott’s Almanac series for five years, and her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Believer, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere.
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