Archive for July 5th, 2010

A few notes before we begin are in order. Sometimes I will use this blog to comment on media that pertains to cemetery research and visiting. Most of these are not likely be full-scale, professional reviews – I’m planning to tell you what I liked and found useful to me as a cemetery visitor, researcher, and blogger. I’ll also let you know if there were any flaws that I noticed.

I just finished reading Marilyn Yalom’s The American Resting Place, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in United States cemeteries. Using a sampling of cemeteries (approximately 250) from across the U.S., Yalom traces uses cemeteries to trace American history, particularly attitudes toward death and dying, shifts in religious sentiment and observances, and the migration of ethnic groups. One of the things I appreciated about Yalom’s work is that she did not pretend to be comprehensive – in the opening pages of the book, she acknowledges that staggering number of cemeteries that dot the United States. The graveyards she highlights are examples of larger trends she wishes to illustrate, but retain their distinct individual eccentricities and personalities. Yalom narrates the book with a passion for cemeteries and a tenderness towards the deceased the cemetery buffs will appreciate and recognize. The photographs, stunning in the starkness of black and white, are the work of her travel companion and son, Reid S. Yalom. They alone are worth the price of the book.

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