Read The American Resting Place: 400 Years of History Through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds by Marilyn Yalom Reid S. Yalom Online


A sweeping history of America as seen through its gravestones, graveyards, and burial practices, stunningly illustrated with eighty black-and-white photographsCemeteries and burial grounds, as illuminated by an acclaimed cultural historian, are unique windows onto our religious, ethnic, and deeply human history as Americans. The dedicated mother-son team of Marilyn and ReiA sweeping history of America as seen through its gravestones, graveyards, and burial practices, stunningly illustrated with eighty black-and-white photographsCemeteries and burial grounds, as illuminated by an acclaimed cultural historian, are unique windows onto our religious, ethnic, and deeply human history as Americans. The dedicated mother-son team of Marilyn and Reid Yalom visited hundreds of cemeteries to create The American Resting Place, following a coast-to-coast trajectory that mirrors the vast historical pattern of American migration. Yalom’s incisive, often poignant exploration of gravestone inscriptions reveal changing ideas about death and personal identity, and demonstrate how class and gender play out in stone. Rich particulars include the story of one seventeenth-century Bostonian who amassed a thousand pairs of gloves in his funeral-going lifetime, the unique burial rites and funerary symbols found in today’s Native American cultures, and a “lost” Czech community brought uncannily to life in Chicago’s Bohemian National Columbarium.From fascinating past to startling future--DVDs embedded in tombstones, "green" burials, and “the new aesthetic of death”--The American Resting Place is the definitive history of the American cemetery....

Title : The American Resting Place: 400 Years of History Through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds
Author :
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ISBN : 9780618624270
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The American Resting Place: 400 Years of History Through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds Reviews

  • Loren
    2019-05-08 13:17

    The definitive text on burial grounds in America, this provides a guidebook for all your cemetery quests. I honestly cannot rave about it enough. Yalom provides solid information, leavened with a touch of personal reflection inspired by the graveyards she visited. My only regret is that Reid Yalom's exquisite photographs are grouped at the front of the book, which necessitates a lot of flipping pages back and forth. Final thought: This is the cemetery book you need to get. It looks dry and intimidating, but I promise you it's anything but.

  • Lisamary
    2019-05-21 21:24

    This review originally appeared in the Graveyard Rabbits online journalBooks about death by their very nature tend to come from deep within an author, and Marilyn Yalom's The American Resting Place is no exception. As for many of us, it is the lives represented in the burial places she visits, the lives of the dead, that draw her in. However, her interest is not merely personal: Yalom succeeds in representing American history and geographic expansion, conveyed through a sense of place, time and group identity. In a three year mother-son trip from New England through the South and onward to Hawaii Marilyn and Reid Yalom leave no doubt that burial grounds can be a significant tool in understanding sociological identity and change.Marilyn Yalom, a senior Scholar at Stanford’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the author of three prior books that link cultural ideas to historical processes (A History of the Breast (1998); A History of the Wife (2002); Birth of the Chess Queen (2004)), is quite practiced in well-done, readable histories. Reid Yalom is a San Francisco based fine art photographer whose first book of photographs, Colonial Noir: Photographs From Mexico, was published by Stanford University Press in the spring of 2004 and whose photographs have been exhibited at galleries in San Francisco and New York. As in Let us Now Praise Famous Men the “parallel narrative” of photographs does not merely support the story, they are truly an integral part of the work, a tale of images hand in hand with the portfolio of written impressions. The largest portion of the book is a selection of individual cemeteries that are both examples of the evolution of the social context and at the same time artistic expression of death. These sometimes iconic, sometimes closely held, burial places takes us through colonial practices, grave labeling, community identity and group cohesion in the graveyard and the process of the removal of death from American life. Later chapters reveal regional differences as well as the development of the art and culture of cemeteries, with a final chapter focusing on the patterns of change in how we build and experience cemeteries. This is quite a bit of material for one book; there are discussions of First Peoples burial practices; those of the Eastern Seaboard colonists’; Spanish Missions in both Texas and California, Nineteenth century urban cemeteries; Catholic grounds in Chicago, St Louis and New Orleans. There is even a chapter on military cemeteries.Despite this breadth, there are enough details that weave her argument together. African-Americans are not consigned to details about burials but acknowledged as agents in their own rights, such as in the stonecutting shops of Newport. The New York congregation of Shearith Israel’s cemetery (1682-1831) is used to show how much real estate can matter. At its height the burial ground covered all of Chatham Square. The city of New York ran streets through the cemetery in the early 19th century, and at midcentury extended the Bowery, moving over 200 graves. The writing is spare, yet in its own way creates vivid mental images of the places visited better than anything more florid would. In her discussion of the changing ethnic makeup of Chicago’s Mt Olive she tells us of “Crosses and Madonnas, photos of the deceased, and sentimental epitaphs enliven the mournful grounds. We stood silently before the tombstone… her epitaph says it all: WE LOVE YOUSADGIRL2001” This clarity of prose is well echoed by Reid Yalom’s photographs. His touch, as in his images of the mausoleum at Hollywood Forever, can be almost abstract, while the image of the Charles Balmer stone in Bellefontaine of St Louis proves surprisingly intimate. And different from these in turn is the shot of the memorial to Dred Scott, journalistic and yet historic.Like many cemeteries I have visited, The American Resting Place is easy to wander through, but well worth the care of a slow, attentive visit.

  • Kate Schmitz
    2019-05-01 19:25

    Anyone who knows anything about American history will be bored to tears with this book, as Yalom dedicates a lot of space to retelling the beginnings of America instead of investigating the deeper, more interesting, and more on-topic history about cemeteries. But then again, Yalom is clearly not a historian. This is also apparent in the copious amounts of description in the book, which had the same effect as reading about a piece of art--imagine having a Picasso explained to you in words rather than just looking at the painting or sculpture itself. In addition, Yalom is much too concerned with inserting her own assertions and observations, even though the assertions seem questionable and are not backed up with any kind of research. Her observations and the insertion of her own emotions are frequently insulting to the reader--there is, for example, a part of the book in which she talks of the graves of members of the PA Institution for the Blind and says "there is something immensely moving about these stones, stones that members of the blind community could not have seen" !!! In other places, she points out the sadness of clearly sad anecdotes, as if the reader couldn't possibly have arrived at that emotion without Yalom's guidance. What little bit of the book that IS interesting is not elaborated upon, which means that this book raises more questions than it answers. The only redeeming section of the book is the collection of photographs taken by her son, Reid. There should have been more photos to serve as replacements for Yalom's endless descriptions.

  • Iris
    2019-05-24 16:07

    An invaluable and comprehensive guide to American traditions in burials and resting places, this book covers a lot of information, and is easy to get through. Ms Yalom moves through chronologically, and therefore westward, from the inception of cemeteries in the East and the changing art on tombstones, and into the missions and stolen bones of the west. It's refreshing to set a book down and feel like I've not only learned a lot, but learn a lot that I can use in my daily life-- I'm surprised how often death and burial come up, and it's fun to recognize symbolism on tombstones I would have otherwise been oblivious to. All of that being said, the writing quality is rather poor. Yalom shifts perspectives, from first to omniscient, from journalistic tones to poetic, from very personal to very empirical, often within the same paragraph. For as pleasant as it was to glean the pages for new insights into cemeteries I've frequented (or plan to), I wanted to do so with a red pen, correcting her grammar and making suggestions to alter her stylistic decisions in favor of clarity and continuity.

  • Amy
    2019-04-24 20:17

    Some chapters were more interesting than others. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts on New Orleans, California, Who Owns the Bones?, National Military Cemeteries and Old and New Fashions in Death.My favorite part was in the chapter relating to Old and New Fashions in Death. One of the new fashions is cemeteries as learning sites! Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia hosted some wild programs in 2007! Here are a few of their programs:Birding Amongst the Buried; Designing for the Dead: Art & Architecture; Dead White Republicans; Philanthropic Philadelphians; A Kids-Eye View of Laurel Hill; Classy Broads & Daring Dames; Gravediggers' Ball; Sinner, Scandals & Suicides; Dining with the Dead and Fall Fun with the Family.

  • Abigail Padgett
    2019-05-22 18:20

    Well researched and documented, the book manages to cover several centuries of American history through the lens of burial practices. Sounds boring, but it isn't. It's fascinating. Yalom has a knack for delicious detail that makes this book a surprising page-turner. Dutch funeral customs, the origin of "Wall" Street, and hundreds of other forgotten aspects of an evolving American culture are deftly woven in a compelling narrative that only dims somewhat in the far-west chapters. There are in-text references to novels featuring the various cemeteries and a good chapter-by-chapter bibliography, making the book a goldmine for high school and undergraduate historical research.

  • Lizzie
    2019-05-23 19:27

    I bought this book because, well, I had to buy a book about cemeteries. It didn't look that great, though, until I started reading. It's fascinating. She starts out with the history of cemeteries in the New England colonies. I'm sure I learned in school but was not paying attention and somehow missed that Rhode Island was founded as a place of religious tolerance. This meant that were early cemeteries there for Quakers, Jews, etc.In later chapters she and her son travel all over the country visiting cemeteries and describing their unique features and local history. All of them are interesting, and I only wish that there were more pictures.

  • Jamie
    2019-04-30 13:04

    Now this one I was a bit disappointed in. Some of the chapters, such as the one on CA, which I believe was titled "Missionaries, Miners and Moguls" was interesting, as was "New Orleans: Where it's Better to be Buried Above Ground." Full disclosure: the NO chapter was the reason I wanted to read the book. Some of the chapters, such as the one about Hawaii, went on for too long and got kinda boring. However, son Reid's photos, in delicious black and white, as they should be, are definitely worth a peek.

  • Rachy
    2019-05-15 18:14

    I visit cemeteries for fun, so I was excited to read this book. Overall, a good history on American cemeteries. I was upset that she kept referring to the famous Chicago Rosehill Cemetery as Roseland, but whatever. At the beginning of the book there were about sixty black and white photographs of the various places she visited. I had to keep going back and forth to see what she was writing about. For her readers she should have included the photos in the various chapters.

  • Ann Gillespie
    2019-05-09 21:09

    The author struggles with a few things (the explanation of how Arlington became a national cemetery is accurate but convoluted), but overall does a great job of tracing the evolution of marker styles and cemeteries in the United States. This is more complete than any book I've read on the subject and its one of my favorite topics.

  • Beth
    2019-05-18 17:07

    I enjoyed the view of history through regional burial rites but I felt the photos didn't live up to the descriptions. Often the author would spend paragraphs describing a particular grave but there wouldn't be an accompanying picture.

  • Gwynneth
    2019-05-17 15:05

    I recommend this to historians an genealogists alike. The most fascinating chapter is the one on Hawaii. The struggles for land and cultural respect between native Hawaiians, Americans, Chinese and Japanese is something few of us learn in school.

  • Paul Wilner
    2019-04-26 14:59

  • Vicky
    2019-04-30 14:19

    This was interesting...great photos. I wish the southwest had been more thoroughly covered with New Mexican and Arizonan cultural practices.

  • Meg
    2019-05-18 17:22

    Lovely, lovely book - both visually and literarily. (Is that a word? But you know what I mean.)

  • Jen
    2019-05-23 21:16

    A detailed history. Definately on the drier side.

  • Kirsten
    2019-05-17 13:22

    loved the photographs.

  • Drea
    2019-05-12 19:27

    I must have misunderstood the review that I read for this book, because I was expecting it to be mainly photos, and it is actually mostly text. I must admit, the only text I read was the intro...

  • Mary
    2019-05-06 18:15

    This had some very beautiful insights into death through the exploration of our history in cemeteries.

  • Katie
    2019-05-12 15:14

    Yay! The prodigal book has returned from the lost and found box at Akron airport.

  • Susan Horan
    2019-05-16 15:57

    A must read for cultural historians and cemetery buffs. You'll look at cemeteries differently after reading this. Photos are beautiful.

  • Michelle
    2019-05-14 18:01

    Very good book to plan trips to famous graveyards...

  • Emily
    2019-04-29 17:01

    In this fascinating history, Ms. Yalom acts as our tour guide through four centuries of American burial grounds. Beginning with the lofty burial mounds of the Native Americans throughout the Mississippi region, and ending with the modern trend toward “green burials,” she covers the gamut of burial sites from Hawaii to Maine, rich to poor, Catholic to Protestant and Jewish to Muslim, famous to unknown, and finds them each as intriguing and unique as the individuals they represent.Gravestones provide brief but tantalizing glimpses into the lives of those who preceded us, sometimes by centuries. Epitaphs can be both poignant and enthralling in their brevity. For example, “She died 23 December 1771 in giving Birth to an Infant Daughter, who rests in her Arms.” Or “Slain by Indians while recovering animals stolen by them.” Heart-breakingly, children are over-represented in cemeteries of bygone days. Often several tiny grave markers clustered together and bearing the same last name act as a testament to the great, deeply felt losses many families experienced when childhood mortality rates were much higher than they are today.The book opens with more than 60 breathtaking black-and-white photographs, each on a separate plate at the beginning, taken by the author's son and later referred to in the text. But there aren't nearly enough! I wanted a picture of each of the hundreds of unique tombstones, crypts, and graveyards she describes. After four chapters laying the broad foundation of how the movement of history affected graveyards in general, Ms. Yalom takes us on the journey she and her son traced as they traveled through different regions of the United States. Starting in New England at some of the earliest European cemeteries in the United States, she describes the stark and spare gravestones, often decorated with winged skulls, used by Puritans to remind all those who saw them of their “mortality and the certainty of physical death” with the wings representing “the spirit and the possibility of resurrection.” They continue south through Rhode Island and New York City, highlighting the difficulties of maintaining adequate cemeteries near booming cities as the cities grow and the ground in which the dead rest becomes more and more valuable.Eventually reaching the South, Ms. Yalom spends a significant chunk of the chapter called “The Southern Way of Death” on graveyards specifically set aside for African Americans, both slaves and freedmen. New Orleans, with its below-sea-level elevation, requires above-ground burial in crypts, vaults and family tombs. Because many of these repositories can be used over and over by family members, this leads to a “burial pattern, unique in America, [that] has produced a special ethos among longtime New Orleanians: because they expect to be reunited with their relatives after death, they often experience a deep attachment to the family tomb.” Consequently, All Saints' Day, November 1, is a municipally recognized holiday in New Orleans, and is marked by families who gather to take care of their family tomb, enjoy a picnic or traditional meal, share stories of those entombed there, and decorate the graves with yellow chrysanthemums.Ms. Yalom and her son continue on through the Midwest, Texas, California, and Hawaii, exploring the unique issues facing cemeteries and burials in each area. The book ends with a contemplation of several of the most famous military cemeteries, notably Gettysburg National Cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery, and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii as well as some overseas military cemeteries, and a survey of some of the trends relating to graveyards, including pet cemeteries and the cemetery preservation movement. A wide-ranging treatment of cemeteries across the country, The American Resting Place will increase your appreciation for, and understanding of, these final resting places.For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  • Amy
    2019-05-08 14:14

    This book fulfills requirement 10~ Featuring Diversity for the 2015 Eclectic Reader challenge. (It could also count for #4~ Microhistory, but I already had that one covered).I really liked this book. There was a lot of interesting history about funerary customs and how they came to American and evolved over time and place. It is also an interesting sociological look at death and remembrance. As far as diversity, this book is full of it. The book discusses various religious groups such as Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist. It also mentions several nationalities including Irish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Scandinavian, and French to name a few. I also thought it interesting how some of the cemeteries were arranged by class and race. I never really thought about how cemeteries were arranged before, but after reading this book, I have a much better understanding about death in America. If I had to pick one thing that I would change, it would be the photographs. The photography is really good. My issue is that it is all grouped as a portfolio at the beginning of the book and I would have liked it to be spread throughout. There were some instances when something was being described that would have been nice to have a photo to illustrate it. It is just a nit-picky thing, so I won't take away anything for that. Otherwise, I really liked how the book was set up to go from region to region to discuss the differences in burials in the different areas of the country.Overall, I would say that if you are interested in cemeteries or history, this is a good book to look into.

  • Sally Kilpatrick
    2019-04-30 13:00

    At times the prose got a little dry and expository, but, on the whole, this is a very, very well written and informative book. Yalom has a great sense of narrative that I don't often see in nonfiction and takes a really broad topic and manages it well. I love the photography also--I could've used even more photography if that were possible. (Goes to see if Yalom has a tumblr account...)The best part of this book, in many ways, involves the diary sections at the end. Whenever Yalom gets personal about why she's interested in cemetery history and/or why it is that people keep coming back to these places considered so macabre by others--that's when the book truly shines.If you're looking for a good overview of the cemetery movement, you need this book. Great factoids about different cemeteries and who's buried there, and I like how she addresses so many different cultures as well. That element of different cultures goes well beyond most of the other cemetery books I've read.

  • Eva Smith
    2019-05-20 18:22

    Excellent source of information about American burial grounds (the old term) and modern cemeteries (the "new" term). Several stories illustrate how our prejudices even extend to how we bury. "Before 1840, Jews could not be buried within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and their corpses had to be shipped our to Newport, Albany, New York City and other locales with more generous laws." Page 29. My only quibble is that I'd like to have learned more about, for example, symbolism on tombstones and burial lore and less travelogue about particular cemeteries. Still, a good book which should be of interest to people researching family history and others.

  • Liz Clappin
    2019-05-06 15:21

    I actually finished this book ages ago I just never marked it! Definitely one of the more comprehensive works with some different examples (ie the Punchbowl on the cover) not as good as The Last Great Necessity but that still remains my go to paradigm. The photos are beautiful and definitely add to the narrative I also like how she discussed regional differences and cultural traditions, it is a far less academic book than Necessity with lots of personal reflection which is not necessarily a bad thing, since the solid background is still there.

  • Mel B.
    2019-05-21 13:24

    Fascinating. Dense reading at times. The ebook version could be formatted much better with links to plates. Also, I didn't even know there were footnotes until I got to the end, another indication of a sloppy conversion.Would've also benefited from far more photos. Adding a website companion would help, since there clearly wasn't room in the print version.But the content explores burial customs, changing symbols and cemeteries by region or religion, etc.

  • Kris
    2019-05-12 17:25

    Fascinating. This book presented a lot of information, accompanied by some personal refection by the author, which I liked for the most part. There were some judgments of burial customs, such as calling memorial parks "death-distancing" that I wish hadn't been included. I also wish the photographs had been with the descriptions, rather than all clumped together at the beginning of the book.

  • Joshua Horn
    2019-05-10 20:24

    The subject of this book is very interesting and it was an interesting read. However, it was lacking in several aspects. The most important is that the author seems not to have been able to make up her mind about whether the book was to be a history, travel guide, exhaustive review of graveyards or a travel memoir. The combination leaves the feeling that the book needed some editing.