R.I.P.: The Complete Book of Death and Dying

Constance Jones, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-270140-4
Jones's clear-sighted, fearlessly inquisitive approach to death and dying-whether the subject is autopsy, cremation, cannibalism, suicide, euthanasia or capital punishment-makes this unusual compendium invaluable and oddly uplifting. She surveys attitudes toward death, from Neandertal, ancient Egyptian, Greek and Celtic beliefs in an afterlife to the modern denial of life's finitude. Jones (Sexual Harassment) scrutinizes biogerontologists' scientific theories of aging; looks at the current debate over whether near-death experiences actually offer a glimpse of the other side; investigates death in popular culture, literature and film; and presents demographic data on infant mortality, AIDS, murder, causes of death, and life expectancy around the world. Her wide-ranging discussion of the soul, afterworlds, reincarnation, ghosts and spirit communication as filtered through the world's religions and spiritualism will challenge skeptics. Although some of the material tends toward the offbeat or bizarre-cult murders, morbid jokes, famous cemeteries, historic mass graves, weird deaths-she concludes with a practical section offering sensitive advice on living wills, choosing where to die, funeral arrangements and coping with loss. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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