Cover image for Cremation in America
Cremation in America
Rosen, Fred.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
278 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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GT3331.U6 R67 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Author Notes

Fred Rosen is an award-winning former columnist for the New York Times and the author of thirteen books. He currently is an adjunct associate professor of criminal justice at Ulster County Community College

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This unusual piece of writing is equal parts social history and personal memoir. Rosen, a columnist for the New York Times and author of Lobster Boy, has gathered anthropological facts on the treatment of human remains in recorded history and goes on to lobby for cremation as a cheaper alternative to traditional burial, even for those whose religion frowns upon it. Curious readers will be able to pick out the pertinent research, such as the shift in cultural thought surrounding cremation from heretical act to sanitary public solution. However, Rosen's nonobjective approach to his subject and frequent use of rhetorical questions to introduce his ideas weaken the effectiveness of the data dramatically. The author can't seem to decide whether he's offering casual gossip or serious journalism. The appendixes, "Famous Celebrities Whose Ashes Were Scattered on Land" and "Famous Celebrities Whose Ashes Were Scattered on Water," are arguably the most inviting sections. This is best suited for younger readers with a nascent sense of the macabre. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

If, as the saying goes, "nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," it is equally certain that after death, human remains must be disposed of, if not by burial then by cremation. Rosen (communications, New York Inst. of Technology; Flesh Collections) traces the history of the latter, from Stone Age beginnings to present popularity. Along the way, he celebrates British and American champions of cremation, follows the evolution of Catholic doctrine on cremation, and observes the influence of national disasters like the 1900 Galveston hurricane. True-crime buffs will enjoy "The Dead Wives Club," in which cremation nearly turns out to be a serial killer's best friend. Although he clearly supports cremation, Rosen laments the current lack of any real regulation and warns consumers to beware of unscrupulous operators. Lists of celebrities whose ashes were scattered on land and water and forms for arranging cremations complete this useful volume. Although Stephen Prothero's Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America covers much the same ground, the two titles complement each other, and larger public libraries will want to own both.-M.C. Duhig, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 11
Prologue--1971: James Bond's Cremationp. 13
Part 1
Chapter 1 February 2002: The Tri-State Crematory Scandalp. 19
Chapter 2 Preantiquity through the Eleventh Centuryp. 29
Chapter 3 Sir Henry to the Rescuep. 39
Chapter 4 Baron De Palm Gets Hotp. 51
Chapter 5 Dr. LeMoyne Fights for the American Retortp. 67
Part 2
Chapter 6 The Fire after the Hurricanep. 81
Chapter 7 Villa, Shorter, and the Vaticanp. 97
Chapter 8 "I'll Give It a Shot": Arranging My Own Cremationp. 111
Chapter 9 John F. Kennedy Jr.: Icon of Cremationp. 125
Part 3
Chapter 10 Diamonds Are a Girl's/Man's Best Friendp. 137
Chapter 11 The Dead Wives Club (How Murderers Use Cremation to Cover Up Their Crimes)p. 147
Chapter 12 Tri-State Revisitedp. 157
Chapter 13 Ted Williams, the Future of Cremation and SARSp. 171
Epiloguep. 177
Appendix A Celebrities Whose Ashes Were Scattered on Landp. 179
Appendix B Celebrities Whose Ashes Were Scattered on Waterp. 193
Appendix C Forms Needed for Arranging a Cremationp. 203
Appendix D Cremation Statisticsp. 217
Appendix E Sir Thomas Browne's "Hydriotaphia"p. 221
Endnotesp. 263
About the Authorp. 275
Indexp. 277