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This provocative book shows how and in what circumstances Americans give birth. It is not about the miracle of life, but about the role of money and politics in a lucrative industry; a saga of champagne birthing suites for the rich, and desperate measures for the poor. It is a colorful history -- from the torture and burning of midwives in medieval times, through the absurd pretensions of the modest Victorian age, to this century's vast succession of anesthetic, technological, and "natural" birthing fashions. And it is a comprehensive indictment of the politics of birth and national health. Explores conventional and alternative methods.
"Mitford's funny and unforgiving book is the best memento mori we are likely to get. It should be updated and reissued each decade for our spiritual health."--The New York Review of BooksOnly the scathing wit and searching intelligence of Jessica Mitford could turn an exposé of the American funeral industry into a book that is at once deadly serious and side-splittingly funny. When first published in 1963 this landmark of investigative journalism became a runaway bestseller and resulted in legislation to protect grieving families from the unscrupulous sales practices of those in "the dismal trade."Just before her death in 1996, Mitford thoroughly revised and updated her classic study. The American Way of Death Revisited confronts new trends, including the success of the profession's lobbyists in Washington, inflated cremation costs, the telemarketing of pay-in-advance graves, and the effects of monopolies in a death-care industry now dominated by multinational corporations. With its hard-nosed consumer activism and a satiric vision out of Evelyn Waugh's novel The Loved One, The American Way of Death Revisited will not fail to inform, delight, and disturb. "Brilliant--hilarious--A must-read for anyone planning to throw a funeral in their lifetime."--New York Post"Witty and penetrating--it speaks the truth."--The Washington PostFrom the Trade Paperback edition.
In this reprint of the 1960 and 1989 editions, Christopher Hitchens, a Vanity Fair columnist and visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School, introduces a memoir of the unconventional British upbringing of Jessica Mitford (1917-1997). The muckraking journalist is best known for The American Way of Death (1963), her exposé of the funeral industry. Mitford family photos are included. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Jessica Mitford gives an in-depth analysis of how prisons function in society.
Addresses, essays, and lectures on journalism from the gentle muckraker Jessica Mitford.
Jessica Mitford was a member of one of England's most legendary families (among her sisters were the novelist Nancy Mitford and the current Duchess of Devonshire) and one of the great muckraking journalists of modern times. Leaving England for America, she pursued a career as an investigative reporter and unrepentant gadfly, publicizing not only the misdeeds of, most famously, the funeral business (The American Way of Death, a bestseller) and the prison business (Kind and Usual Punishment), but also of writing schools and weight-loss programs. Mitford's diligence, unfailing skepticism, and acid pen made her one of the great chroniclers of the mischief people get up to in the pursuit of profit and the name of good. Poison Penmanship collects seventeen of Mitford's finest pieces--about everything from crummy spas to network-TV censorship--and fills them out with the story of how she got the scoop and, no less fascinating, how the story developed after publication. The book is a delight to read: few journalists have ever been as funny as Mitford, or as gifted at getting around in those dark, cobwebbed corners where modern America fashions its shiny promises. It's also an unequaled and necessary manual of the fine art of investigative reporting.
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