Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America / Edition 1

Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America / Edition 1

by Stephen Prothero
Pub. Date:
University of California Press
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Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America / Edition 1

Just one hundred years ago, Americans almost universally condemned cremation. Today, nearly one-quarter of Americans choose to be cremated. The practice has gained wide acceptance as a funeral rite, in both our private and public lives, as the cremations of icons such as John Lennon and John F. Kennedy Jr. show. Purified by Fire tells the fascinating story of cremation's rise from notoriety to legitimacy and takes a provocative new look at important transformations in the American cultural landscape over the last 150 years.

Stephen Prothero synthesizes a wide array of previously untapped source material, including newspapers, consumer guides, mortician trade journals, and popular magazines such as Reader's Digest to provide this first historical study of cremation in the United States. He vividly describes many noteworthy events—from the much-criticized first American cremation in 1876 to the death and cremation of Jerry Garcia in the late twentieth century. From the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era to the baby boomers of today, this book takes us on a tour through American culture and traces our changing attitudes toward death, religion, public health, the body, and the environment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520236882
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 11/15/2002
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 298
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsxi
Part 1Birth, 1874-189613
1.The Cremation of Baron De Palm15
2.Sanitary Reform46
3.Resurrection and the Resurrectionists67
Part 2Bricks and Mortar, 1896-1963103
4.The Business of Cremation105
5.The Memorial Idea127
Part 3Boom, 1963-Present161
6.Consumers' Last Rites163
7.Contemporary Ways of Cremation188
Selected Bibliography253

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