Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rest in Pieces, by Bess Lovejoy. Simon & Schuster, 2013

Most people know about the resurrectionists, the grave robbers who provided bodies for medical students in the 19th century, but a lot of other things have happened to corpses. They have been stolen to use as religious relics, held for ransom, used as exhibits, moved from place to place- not always in complete form, shot into space (at least that one was the wish of the deceased), destroyed to prevent it being used as a political symbol, and preserved and displayed them as political symbols. Most of these things were done without the permission of the deceased, and most often without the permission of the family. Lovejoy recounts 51 short tales of the adventures of the deceased, from Alexander the Great to Hunter S. Thompson. All manner of people appear in the book: scientists, dictators, saints, poets, athletes, outlaws, philosophers, composers, presidents, singers, Native American chiefs, authors, assassins and more all take a turn.

While a grim subject, the book is amusing and interesting. But I read the book straight through, and that was a mistake. I started to weary of the subject and started getting the various chapters mixed up in my mind. I think this book would be better read in bits, picking it up to read a chapter or two at a time. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy the book, Amazon will give me a tiny bit of money.

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