Just as causes of death have changed dramatically over the past centuries, so have the ways in which we deal with the dead. Berridges book is well written and very entertaining, in spite of the subject matter.
Berridge shows that our attitude to mortal remains is as much at the whim of fashion and the vagaries of historical accident, as any other part of our lives. She describes, for example, the connection between the killing fields of the first world war and the end of the Victorian practice of prolonged public mourning, clad in black.
We follow the slow rise of cremation through city population booms, body snatching, public health concerns, and the considerable influence of the funeral choices of a fashionable few, to its position today as the preferred method of body disposal.
Much of the book concerns contemporary behaviour, including the return of mass public displays of grief,