Synopses & Reviews
"To rescue the dead from oblivion, examine America's ethnic diversity and highlight shifts in cemetery mores over time, cultural historian Yalom (A History of the Breast) and her photographer son (Colonial Noir) traveled to more than 250 American cemeteries across the country. From the ancient Native American Etowah mounds in northern Georgia (abandoned around 1550, when the tribes were presumably destroyed by European diseases) to Rhode Island's Touro Jewish Cemetery, established in 1677 (it inspired a moving poem by Longfellow), Yalom examines the ways gender, class and culture affected how people were buried. New Orleans's cemeteries, for instance, show discrepancies between white and black residents: whites were buried in aboveground tombs, blacks in soggy earth that sometimes forced remains back up to the surface. Chicago's Waldheim holds Gypsies and anarchist Emma Goldman, while the moneyed aristocrats Marshall Field and Cyrus McCormick ended up in Graceland Cemetery. While rich, interesting nuggets abound, the mount of time and territory covered results in some shallow analysis. 80 b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The American Resting Place [is] the record of a special pilgrimage and a document for the ages." --Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking
"A one-of-a-kind richness of history, insight, humor, and dignity. I could wander around in it for days." --Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Bonk
A sweeping history of America as seen through its gravestones, graveyards, and burial practices, stunningly illustrated with eighty black-and-white photographs
Cemeteries and burial grounds, as illuminated by an acclaimed cultural historian, are unique windows onto our religious, ethnic, and deeply human history as Americans.
The dedicated mother-son team of Marilyn and Reid Yalom visited hundreds of cemeteries to create The American Resting Place, following a coast-to-coast trajectory that mirrors the vast historical pattern of American migration.
Yalomand#8217;s incisive, often poignant exploration of gravestone inscriptions reveal changing ideas about death and personal identity, and demonstrate how class and gender play out in stone. Rich particulars include the story of one seventeenth-century Bostonian who amassed a thousand pairs of gloves in his funeral-going lifetime, the unique burial rites and funerary symbols found in todayand#8217;s Native American cultures, and a and#147;lostand#8221; Czech community brought uncannily to life in Chicagoand#8217;s Bohemian National Columbarium.
From fascinating past to startling future--DVDs embedded in tombstones, "green" burials, and and#147;the new aesthetic of deathand#8221;--The American Resting Place is the definitive history of the American cemetery.
This sweeping history of America, as seen through its gravestones, graveyards, and burial practices, is stunningly illustrated with 80 black-and-white photographs.
Table of Contents
Photo Portfolio ix Preface: Tombstones to Live By xiii 1. Claiming the Land 1 2. Marking the Grave 10 3. Solidarity in the Cemetery 28 4. Distancing the Dead 42 5. Deathand#8217;s-Heads and Funeral Gloves: Boston, Massachusetts 52 6. and#147;Gone Are the Living, but the Dead Remainand#8221;: Newport, Rhode Island 68 7. Cemeteries as Real Estate: New York City 82 8. Plain and Fancy: Philadelphia and Lancaster County 98 9. The Southern Way of Death: South Carolina and Georgia 112 10. New Orleans: Where Itand#8217;s Better to Be Buried above Ground 139 11. Rituals of Remembrance: St. Louis and the Boonslick 151 12. Ethnicity, Religion, and Class in Underground Chicago 170 13. Celebrating the Dead in Polyglot Texas 191 14. California: Missionaries, Miners, Moguls, and Movie Stars 207 15. Who Owns the Bones? Sites and Rites in Hawaii 232 16. National Military Cemeteries 256 17. Old and New Fashions in Death 272 Endnotes 299 Acknowledgments 315 Selected Bibliography 317 Index 321