Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial

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9780805082210: Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial
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Drawing on extensive historical and anthropological research, personal accounts, and interviews with people who work in the funeral industry, Penny Colman examines the compelling subjects of death and burial across cultures and societies. The text, enriched with stories both humorous and poignant, includes details about the decomposition and embalming processes (an adult corpse buried six feet deep without a coffin will usually take five to ten years to turn into a skeleton) and describes the various customs associated with containing remains (the Igala people in Nigeria have a custom of burying people in as many as twenty-seven layers of clothing). Intriguing facts are revealed at every turn; for example, in Madagascar winter was considered the corpse-turning season.

This comprehensive book also includes a list of burial sites of famous people, images in the arts associated with death, fascinating epitaphs and gravestone carvings, a chronology and a glossary, and over a hundred black-and-white photographs, most of which were taken by the author.

Penny Colman writes with compassion and intelligence and humanizes the difficult subjects of death and burial. The result is a powerful look at an inevitable part of life--death.

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About the Author:

Penny Colman is the author of many award-winning books, among them, Toilets, Bathtubs, Sinks and Sewers: A History of the Bathroom, a New York Public Library Best Book for Teens, and Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Homefront in WWII, an American Library Association Notable Book, a School Library Journal Best Book for Young Adults, and the winner of the Orbis Pictus Honor Award.

A popular guest speaker, Penny Colman lives in Englewood, New Jersey.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 6 Up. Death, the last stage of the human condition, has been underreported and mostly avoided in writing for young people. Colman takes on the task with just the right mix of unblinking realism and sensitivity to varieties of beliefs and practices. The eight chapters explain decomposition, cremation, and burials; describe rituals and ceremonies from many times and places; and show the impact of death and loss on those still living through epitaphs and artworks?some humorous, some poignant. Extensive research is evident throughout the book, from the wide and knowledgeable coverage of cultures and past times to the impressive bibliography. Black-and-white prints, art reproductions, and photographs fill the pages. The author avoids being morbid by using a conversational tone, often referring to her own experiences and relating anecdotes told to her by others. She also balances grim facts about embalming and mourning with accounts of curious and witty gravestones and eccentric burial requests, turning the otherwise dark material into entertaining reading. Lists of significant dates in funereal history (e.g., the beginnings of mound building, the first use of catacombs) and a guide to burial sites of famous people complete the coverage. This is a book that answers many questions and introduces fascinating facts. It should find many readers.?Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780805050660: Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial

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ISBN 10:  0805050663 ISBN 13:  9780805050660
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 1997
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9781250062901: Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial

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