Death, American Style: A Cultural History of Dying in America

Lawrence R. Samuel. Rowman & Littlefield, $40 (244p) ISBN 978-1-4422-2223-6
Professional pundit Samuel (The American Dream: A Cultural History) provides an overview of how Americans have struggled with the issue of dying, from the 1920s to the present, when the great wave of Baby Boomers are increasingly confronted with their mortality. In these nine decades, as Samuel informs readers, America has experienced brutal wars and epidemics, as well as major medical advances that extended life spans considerably, allowing people to ignore the deferred but inevitable terminal moment. The book’s scope, combined with its short page count, limits Samuel to a superficial analysis that is focused on the average middle-class American. Heterogenous, economically and socially stratified aspects of the country are not reflected in the book—an odd oversight. Though the book engages, the reader is left wondering if narrative unity has been purchased at the cost of excluding much of America. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/08/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
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