Shelfari edited the description of The American Way of Death Monday, August 3, 2009.
Before the turn of the century, the American funeral was simple "to the point of starkness," says Jessica Mitford, the acclaimed muckraking journalist who published this investigation of the country's funeral business in 1963. That the country went on to develop a tendency for gross overspending on funerals Mitford puts down to the greed and ingenuity of undertakers, whom she regards as salesmen guilty of pressuring families into agreeing to their excessive standards for burial. Mitford, who died recently, delivers facts and criticism in a forthright and humorous manner. She would certainly appreciate that her assessment of the American way of death endures after her own passing.