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Posted July 22, 2008
Explains A Lot
I found Jan Bondeson's study of the societal, medical, and folkloric background of the fear of live burial to be both informative and wildly entertaining. I had heard of such things as the Bateson Belfry coffins fitted with bells, and I'd been thoroughly puzzled by the waiting mortuary described in Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi but I was totally ignorant of how widespread the phobia of live burial truly was. The Bateson Belfry was by no means the only so-called safety coffin offered, and there really were buildings in Germany where the dead were kept until they displayed either signs or life or signs of putrefaction. The simple fact that the medical profession around the turn of the 18th/19th century couldn't agree on what constituted an infallible sign of death was enlightening and fascinating (a young physician won a prestigious prize for suggesting that the absence of a detectable heartbeat proved death). If at times it seemed that Bondeson was repeating himself, it was because the AntiPremature Burial hysterics were always repeating the same old stories as proof that their fears were justifiable. The Lady With the Ring was brought up so often that she was practically a running joke. I enjoyed this book thoroughly, and it's well written enough (unlike this review!) to be easily re-readable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 26, 2003
I was very excited when I got this book. But by the third chapter I realized the author aparently run out of ideas making this book very long and boring. It seems like I was reading the same over and over, for the next 5 or 6 chapters. Very disappionting.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.