(4.5 stars rounded up to a 5)
All the Living and the Dead is a non-fiction book by journalist Hayley Campbell. The ebook version is 288 pages. I listened to the audiobook, which clocks in at just under nine hours and is narrated by the author.
The extended title of the book is a pretty apt description of what it entails: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work. The author interviews various people in that spectrum, including mass fatality investigators, embalmers, former executioners, gravediggers, cryonics facility operators, crime scene cleaners, bereavement midwives, and homicide detectives.
This book was fascinating, and I learned a lot. I have been part of Death Positive DC, a group that promotes conversations about death, so this book was right up my alley. I felt so many emotions while reading this; I laughed out loud quite a few times, but there are also moments that I felt morose or sad. I’ve already preordered a finished copy for my bookshelf. This is one of those rare moments where the US cover is better than the UK cover!
This would be a great book for fans of Caitlin Doughty or Mary Roach. Additionally, if you’re in the Death Café scene, this should absolutely be your next book club read. It mainly focuses on the Western side of how we deal with death, though there are a few brief mentions of what some other cultures do.
Special thanks to Macmillan, Macmillan Audio, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for providing an audio galley of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
All the Living and the Dead releases on Tuesday, August 16th, 2022.