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All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life's Work

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A deeply compelling exploration of the death industry and the people—morticians, detectives, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, executioners—who work in it and what led them there. We are surrounded by death. It is in our news, our nursery rhymes, our true-crime podcasts. Yet from a young age, we are told that death is something to be feared. How are we supposed to know what A deeply compelling exploration of the death industry and the people—morticians, detectives, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, executioners—who work in it and what led them there. We are surrounded by death. It is in our news, our nursery rhymes, our true-crime podcasts. Yet from a young age, we are told that death is something to be feared. How are we supposed to know what we’re so afraid of, when we are never given the chance to look? Fueled by a childhood fascination with death, journalist Hayley Campbell searches for answers in the people who make a living by working with the dead. Along the way, she encounters mass fatality investigators, embalmers, and a former executioner who is responsible for ending sixty-two lives. She meets gravediggers who have already dug their own graves, visits a cryonics facility in Michigan, goes for late-night Chinese with a homicide detective, and questions a man whose job it is to make crime scenes disappear. Through Campbell’s incisive and candid interviews with these people who see death every day, she asks: Why would someone choose this kind of life? Does it change you as a person? And are we missing something vital by letting death remain hidden? A dazzling work of cultural criticism, All the Living and the Dead weaves together reportage with memoir, history, and philosophy, to offer readers a fascinating look into the psychology of Western death.


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A deeply compelling exploration of the death industry and the people—morticians, detectives, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, executioners—who work in it and what led them there. We are surrounded by death. It is in our news, our nursery rhymes, our true-crime podcasts. Yet from a young age, we are told that death is something to be feared. How are we supposed to know what A deeply compelling exploration of the death industry and the people—morticians, detectives, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, executioners—who work in it and what led them there. We are surrounded by death. It is in our news, our nursery rhymes, our true-crime podcasts. Yet from a young age, we are told that death is something to be feared. How are we supposed to know what we’re so afraid of, when we are never given the chance to look? Fueled by a childhood fascination with death, journalist Hayley Campbell searches for answers in the people who make a living by working with the dead. Along the way, she encounters mass fatality investigators, embalmers, and a former executioner who is responsible for ending sixty-two lives. She meets gravediggers who have already dug their own graves, visits a cryonics facility in Michigan, goes for late-night Chinese with a homicide detective, and questions a man whose job it is to make crime scenes disappear. Through Campbell’s incisive and candid interviews with these people who see death every day, she asks: Why would someone choose this kind of life? Does it change you as a person? And are we missing something vital by letting death remain hidden? A dazzling work of cultural criticism, All the Living and the Dead weaves together reportage with memoir, history, and philosophy, to offer readers a fascinating look into the psychology of Western death.

30 review for All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life's Work

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tanja Berg

    A great book describing what happens when we die. The author is a journalist and her deeply personal story on discovering death makes the whole book. “The first person you see dead should not be one you love.” The first dead body I saw, I found in the cellar of missionary colleague of my parents, after following the trail of tiny red ants. I was four. The second was a man, dead by cancer, when a town bureaucrat insisted the lid of the coffin be removed. The jaundiced faced and the smell of decay hi A great book describing what happens when we die. The author is a journalist and her deeply personal story on discovering death makes the whole book. “The first person you see dead should not be one you love.” The first dead body I saw, I found in the cellar of missionary colleague of my parents, after following the trail of tiny red ants. I was four. The second was a man, dead by cancer, when a town bureaucrat insisted the lid of the coffin be removed. The jaundiced faced and the smell of decay hit me at the same time. The bureaucrat retched. I didn’t. I’d been at his death bed, and he smelled before life had left his body. I was ten. I’ve seen my dead grandparents and yes, indeed, been grateful that their dead bodies were not the first one I encountered.

  2. 5 out of 5

    CYIReadBooks (Claire)

    If you were ever curious about death and the people that work with the dead, All the Living and the Dead is a must read. It contains a behind the scenes look at the people whose vocations revolve around death on a daily basis. From funeral directors, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, grave diggers, and even cremators. There is something for everyone. But my personal favorites were the embalmer and the cremator. Totally gross, but extremely interesting. All the Living and the Dead is not a book to If you were ever curious about death and the people that work with the dead, All the Living and the Dead is a must read. It contains a behind the scenes look at the people whose vocations revolve around death on a daily basis. From funeral directors, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, grave diggers, and even cremators. There is something for everyone. But my personal favorites were the embalmer and the cremator. Totally gross, but extremely interesting. All the Living and the Dead is not a book to read by the faint of heart as it does contain a number of gruesome details for each vocation. Author, Campbell had the distinct pleasure of not only interviewing the people involved, but also having a hands on experience with some of the interviewees. Campbell deftly describes the gory details and at the same time expertly manages to add a human element to an otherwise inhuman narrative. Exceptionally and beautifully written. Five amazing stars. I received a digital ARC from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Zak

    Do not read any reviews. Just buy the book. It is a masterclass of journalism/non-fiction storytelling.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bonny

    All the Living and the Dead is an amazing book. As I get older, sign up for Medicare and begin to face my own mortality in a more serious way, I have looked for books to help with this process. There is not a lot out there, and I hesitated before requesting this book from Netgalley, but Hayley Campbell has written about death and the many different people associated with it so well that I found the book informative and beautiful. The author wrote the book because she wondered how people who have All the Living and the Dead is an amazing book. As I get older, sign up for Medicare and begin to face my own mortality in a more serious way, I have looked for books to help with this process. There is not a lot out there, and I hesitated before requesting this book from Netgalley, but Hayley Campbell has written about death and the many different people associated with it so well that I found the book informative and beautiful. The author wrote the book because she wondered how people who have made death their work manage it on a daily basis. “If the reason we’re outsourcing this burden is because it’s too much for us, how do they deal with it?” Campbell interviews many different people associated with death - a funeral director, the director of anatomical services at Mayo Clinic, an embalmer, a crime scene cleaner, a death mask maker, an executioner, anatomic pathology technologist, bereavement midwife, gravediggers, crematorium operator, and even people at a cryonics institute. I learned that there are many more people involved with death than I ever thought, and with their varied viewpoints, I also learned that it's far more than just a job to many of them. The care and respect they feel and show in their work is evident, even if it's work that most people will never see and may not be appreciated. There are a few morbid details, but Campbell gets involved in some of these details, such as dressing a corpse, handling a brain during an autopsy, and raking remains from the crematorium. This helps to make them seem just a little less morbid. The book never struck me as macabre or sensationalizing death, but I thought it was written with a fine balance between empathy and clinically explained details. I highly recommend Hayley Campbell and this book as a compassionate and honest way to read about death, ease your fears, and face mortality."The world is full of people telling you how to feel about death and dead bodies, and I don't want to be one of them - I don't want to tell you how to feel about anything, I only want you to think about it." Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum

    Death is an interesting topic and one we will all eventually come to know first hand. It's a taboo topic in some circles, and too painful to discuss in others but like Hayley Campbell, it's always been of interest to me. As a kid, I remember a photograph I saw in a book of an adult who had died in their armchair as a result of spontaneous combustion. The idea that a body could catch fire or burst into flames at any moment was a frightening discovery and probably the first time I'd seen a photo o Death is an interesting topic and one we will all eventually come to know first hand. It's a taboo topic in some circles, and too painful to discuss in others but like Hayley Campbell, it's always been of interest to me. As a kid, I remember a photograph I saw in a book of an adult who had died in their armchair as a result of spontaneous combustion. The idea that a body could catch fire or burst into flames at any moment was a frightening discovery and probably the first time I'd seen a photo of a dead body. In our everyday lives, we're regularly shielded from death and that's something Hayley Campbell wants to change. In an attempt to understand how workers in the death industry cope with the demands of their job and why they chose their vocation in the first place, Hayley Campbell met a range of interviewees in order to produce All the Living and the Dead: A Personal Investigation Into the Death Trade. In her book, Campbell interviews a funeral director, director of anatomical services, death mask sculptor, disaster victim identification, crime scene cleaner, executioner, embalmer, anatomical pathology technologist, bereavement midwife, gravedigger, crematorium operator and an employee from the Cryonics Institute. The variety of people and jobs was well rounded and each employee provided a new aspect to consider. "I have met funeral directors who tell me they could not handle the gore of an autopsy, a crematorium worker who could not dress a dead man because it is too personal, and a gravedigger who can stand neck-deep in his own grave in the day but is scared of the cemetery at night. I have met APTs in the autopsy room who can weigh a human heart but will not read the suicide note in the coroner's report. We all have our blinkers on, but what we block out is personal to us." Page 230 In her research, Campbell accompanied staff on their duties and began to experience moments that would stick with her for the rest of her life. While trying to understand how staff manage to cope with the trauma that comes along with their chosen careers, the author found herself accumulating instances that would later qualify as giving her PTSD. As she discusses the most disturbing account of her time - (view spoiler)[assisting in an autopsy of a baby (hide spoiler)] - Campbell realises that she has immersed herself so deep into the research that she is now processing the kind of trauma that regular staff in the industry have to deal with. After reading the chapter about the crime scene cleaner, I was tempted to suss out his instagram profile after Campbell's descriptions of his posts there. I quickly fell into a deep dark social media hole for 20 mins until my levels of fear, disgust, repulsion, sorrow, compassion, sympathy and frustration at much of the needless carnage were depleted. I definitely don't recommend it and yet it confirmed I'm unsuitable for that job. Just as Campbell felt weighed down by what she learned and experienced, I too began to feel heavy and had to set this book down for a few weeks before returning to it. The overuse of hyphens throughout the writing also slowed me down a little. On a lighter note, there was much to inspire the reader, and when I returned to the book I enjoyed this passage in particular: "Thinking about death and the passage of time is part of tending a garden. You put things in the ground knowing they might fail. You grow things knowing they will die with the frosts six months from now. An acceptance of an end and a celebration of a short, beautiful life is all tucked up in this one at. People say gardening is therapeutic, that putting your hands in soil and effecting change on the world makes you feel alive and present, like something you do matters even if it's only in this one terracotta pot. But the therapy runs deeper than physicality: from the start of spring, every month is a countdown to an end. Every year, the gardener accepts, plans for and even celebrates death in the crisping seed heads that sparkle with ice in winter: a visible reminder of both an end and a beginning." Page 237 I enjoyed All the Living and the Dead by Hayley Campbell, however most telling were probably the number of books from the further reading section that I’ve read on this subject over the years: - Necropolis: London and Its Dead by Catharine Arnold - Not Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, but I have read Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty - Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry - Stiff by Mary Roach - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley In conclusion, I admire Hayley Campbell's courage to shine a light on the often unknown world of death workers and the death industry. It's not until we face a natural disaster ourselves that we'd ever learn of the existence of Kenyon, or undergo problems with a pregnancy to be introduced to a bereavement midwife. I think it's important to better understand and appreciate the death workers within our community and thank them for the very important work that they do. * Copy courtesy of Bloomsbury * (For recommendations on similar books about death and the death industry, and to find out what else I have on my TBR, check out my review on my blog. )

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Fascinating! A study in our Western responses to death as well as all of the disciplines who value the cadaver as a tool to help the living and/or determine findings about the untimely dead. There are a number of books dedicated to the corpse, but this is unique among them as it focuses on our reactions to death and its ancillary businesses as well as how their jobs have impacted those who work with the dead. I requested and received a free e-book copy from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank Fascinating! A study in our Western responses to death as well as all of the disciplines who value the cadaver as a tool to help the living and/or determine findings about the untimely dead. There are a number of books dedicated to the corpse, but this is unique among them as it focuses on our reactions to death and its ancillary businesses as well as how their jobs have impacted those who work with the dead. I requested and received a free e-book copy from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you!

  7. 5 out of 5

    William DeGeest

    Being an impatient man, I couldn't wait for the US release so had one shipped from across the pond and I have absolutely zero regrets about that. Thoughtful and beautifully written. Moving, personal, compassionate, sad, uplifting, and funny. I loved this book. Being an impatient man, I couldn't wait for the US release so had one shipped from across the pond and I have absolutely zero regrets about that. Thoughtful and beautifully written. Moving, personal, compassionate, sad, uplifting, and funny. I loved this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    “Mike and Bob have buried friends, babies, murder victims that later needed to be exhumed, and both of them have buried their mothers - they helped each other dig them, like they would any other grave. When they themselves die, those graves will be reopened and their coffins placed a couple of inches above the lids of their mothers’. They have both, already, dug and stood inside their own graves. When I ask what that feels like, they glance at each other. They don’t think about it too much. Mike “Mike and Bob have buried friends, babies, murder victims that later needed to be exhumed, and both of them have buried their mothers - they helped each other dig them, like they would any other grave. When they themselves die, those graves will be reopened and their coffins placed a couple of inches above the lids of their mothers’. They have both, already, dug and stood inside their own graves. When I ask what that feels like, they glance at each other. They don’t think about it too much. Mike says that death, like a grave, is just a practical thing: you’re an outsider looking in, even if you’re standing in it. And why would anyone else dig the grave when they’re the local gravediggers? They’d do the same job for anyone, whether it’s a mother or a stranger. Bob says he’s just looking forward to being with his mum again, having lived with her all his life until she died two years ago. But he’s frightened of the graveyard at night. ‘She’ll look after me,’ he mumbles, smiling shyly.” lines that made me bawl like a baby at half past three in the morning!!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Simon Pressinger

    This was an unexpectedly moving book, thoughtful, candid and insightful. I’ve not been so gripped by this type of non-fiction since I read The Trauma Cleaner. There are so many aspects in the industry of death and those who deal with it that I would never have imagined. There’s a major company who handles the “clean up” after massive disasters such as plane and train crashes, earthquakes, the Grenfell tower fire; there’s an artist who makes busts from death masks, preferably while they’re still This was an unexpectedly moving book, thoughtful, candid and insightful. I’ve not been so gripped by this type of non-fiction since I read The Trauma Cleaner. There are so many aspects in the industry of death and those who deal with it that I would never have imagined. There’s a major company who handles the “clean up” after massive disasters such as plane and train crashes, earthquakes, the Grenfell tower fire; there’s an artist who makes busts from death masks, preferably while they’re still warm in order to keep their likeness close to life; there are midwives who deal exclusively with stillbirths and pre-term deaths (I.e. the death of an underdeveloped foetus) — a chapter that had me in tears a couple of times. I like Hayley Campbell’s writing style. She’s honest, matter of fact, embellishing only where appropriate. She puts herself into the stories and is honest about how she feels, but always lets the situation and the interviewees speak for themselves, whether it be the disaffected loudmouth who cleans up crime scene blood and gore for a living, or the friendly executioner who felt no moral responsibility for the hundreds of lives he’d taken over the decades, before dying of Covid last year. It’s an excellent book, at times bizarre and funny, but each chapter is a new lesson that made me feel a little more informed about the death trade.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    Campbell's book will inevitably be compared to Caitlin Doughty by, like, everyone. It's a good readalike though! (along with Mary Roach's STIFF). I'm pretty much obsessed by books about death... it's the one thing in life I still need to prepare for (along with retirement). This one really looks it in the face, describing all sorts of careers that work with the dead. I didn't realize there were so many caregivers who stay mostly behind the scenes: caring for corpses, helping parents who give bir Campbell's book will inevitably be compared to Caitlin Doughty by, like, everyone. It's a good readalike though! (along with Mary Roach's STIFF). I'm pretty much obsessed by books about death... it's the one thing in life I still need to prepare for (along with retirement). This one really looks it in the face, describing all sorts of careers that work with the dead. I didn't realize there were so many caregivers who stay mostly behind the scenes: caring for corpses, helping parents who give birth to babies who have passed on, even being the one to press the button at an execution. All these people need to have strong resolve to do their jobs, and even Campbell says she'll never be the same after doing this research. Her writing is compelling, too--I couldn't stop reading. I'm sure this book will stay with me for a long time (maybe until I'm dead).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lucie Morningstar

    When you are a death positive individual, with a fascination for every aspect of what happens when you die, you read a lot of these sorts of books. Not only is Campbell's writing exceptional, it is informative and engaging. Campbell deals with sensitive issues with a delicate manner whilst paying respect to those involved on both sides of the coin. Some of the processes and detail were not new to me, but it was Campbell's experience, emotions and moving voice that made this so wonderous. If, like When you are a death positive individual, with a fascination for every aspect of what happens when you die, you read a lot of these sorts of books. Not only is Campbell's writing exceptional, it is informative and engaging. Campbell deals with sensitive issues with a delicate manner whilst paying respect to those involved on both sides of the coin. Some of the processes and detail were not new to me, but it was Campbell's experience, emotions and moving voice that made this so wonderous. If, like me, you enjoy the subject of death you will want to add this to your collection. If you find the subject of death and your own morality more of an uncomfortable taboo area, this is a compassionate and meaningful entry into the topic of the end part of our journey.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda “Michelle” Green

    I was absolutely enthralled by this book from the very first page. I’ve always been intrigued by death. The history of how our bodies were handled, the rituals around it, the science of exactly what happens to us postmortem. A book like this could easily become heavy and dark, but Hayley was able to convey these things in an easily digestible way. Her exploration of death was refreshing, informative and thought provoking. Well done!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shandi York

    Hayley Campbell covers so much in All the Living and the Dead, and while it’s just under 300 pages, I took my time reading this and letting it all soak in. She takes us on the front lines with her, observing Mayo Clinic studies, embalmings, autopsies, discussing crime scene cleaning with a top professional, and visiting crematories and funeral homes and more. So much time and research went into this and at times took a mental and physical toll on her. She was so informative yet empathetic, delica Hayley Campbell covers so much in All the Living and the Dead, and while it’s just under 300 pages, I took my time reading this and letting it all soak in. She takes us on the front lines with her, observing Mayo Clinic studies, embalmings, autopsies, discussing crime scene cleaning with a top professional, and visiting crematories and funeral homes and more. So much time and research went into this and at times took a mental and physical toll on her. She was so informative yet empathetic, delicate and kind with her words, and her writing felt so genuine. I read a lot of books about death, but I still walked away from this learning so much and will definitely reread this in the future. If you love Caitlin Doughty’s work, All The Living and the Dead is a must-read that I highly HIGHLY recommend! Thanks to St.Martin’s Press, NetGalley and Hayley Campbell for my eARC. All the Living and the Dead will be available in August, don’t worry, I’ll be sure to remind you! 🖤

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jolene

    I don't even know how to explain what a phenomenal read this was. Death, it's all around us. Whether we experienced a loss of a loved one, are addicted to murder shows, read thrillers that tangle it's plot around it, A history full of punishment and death. Images plastered throughout the web. It's literally everywhere. And we are kind of used to it. But there are people who have dedicated their lives to death. Morticians, embalmers, crime scene cleaners and executioners to just name a few. How I don't even know how to explain what a phenomenal read this was. Death, it's all around us. Whether we experienced a loss of a loved one, are addicted to murder shows, read thrillers that tangle it's plot around it, A history full of punishment and death. Images plastered throughout the web. It's literally everywhere. And we are kind of used to it. But there are people who have dedicated their lives to death. Morticians, embalmers, crime scene cleaners and executioners to just name a few. How do these people look at death? How do they go home at the end of the day and continue to sit down and eat with their families, go to sleep at night and just plain accept all that they have seen and done throughout the day. Are they numb to it? Do they turn it off? Well Hayley Campbell sets out to get those answers. She spends her days with those who do these jobs, accompanying them throughout the day. Diving into their minds and feelings and the roles they play daily . I don't think I will ever look at some of these things the same gain. I have much more respect for those who do these jobs. And honestly in my opinion, some of these people might just be earths angels.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty Keddie

    Extraordinary! Hayley Campbell takes herself to the edge and a bit beyond in the crafting of this extraordinarily honest collection of journalism and in documenting the personal journey in understanding her relationship with death. For anyone who has ever wondered what happens to a body once the undertaker whisks it away…or when an autopsy is required…or after the curtain goes round the coffin at the crem. This book is for you. This book answered all my questions and informed me on things I had no Extraordinary! Hayley Campbell takes herself to the edge and a bit beyond in the crafting of this extraordinarily honest collection of journalism and in documenting the personal journey in understanding her relationship with death. For anyone who has ever wondered what happens to a body once the undertaker whisks it away…or when an autopsy is required…or after the curtain goes round the coffin at the crem. This book is for you. This book answered all my questions and informed me on things I had no idea about. Who knew there was a specialist company next to Heathrow ready at a moments notice to deploy experts to deal with a tragic disaster for example. Two things I do know now 1) I will not be donating my body to medical science and 2) I will ensure my family and I are all cremated in good wooden box and not in an eco coffin! Read to find out why!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Claire Mkinsi

    Absolutely riveting! Of course, you have to be someone with a morbid (is this unhealthy?) fascination with death, because I can imagine this book might be upsetting to some. Hayley Campbell - who is a wonderful writer btw - tackles the subject of death and dying with an almost childlike, unflinching curiosity. Her narrations are startlingly vivid without melodrama or sensationalism. I think she is incredibly brave to confront the existentialist fear of death we all understand by investigating ho Absolutely riveting! Of course, you have to be someone with a morbid (is this unhealthy?) fascination with death, because I can imagine this book might be upsetting to some. Hayley Campbell - who is a wonderful writer btw - tackles the subject of death and dying with an almost childlike, unflinching curiosity. Her narrations are startlingly vivid without melodrama or sensationalism. I think she is incredibly brave to confront the existentialist fear of death we all understand by investigating how we process death from every conceivable angle. I was fascinated and enthralled. A brilliant piece of journalism.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily Hoban

    sooo good, IMO even better than Stiff or Smoke gets in Your Eyes

  18. 5 out of 5

    Selena

    In the afterword of this book, Hayley Campbell says: "The world is full of people telling you how to feel about death and dead bodies, and I don't want to be one of them - I don't want to tell you how to feel about anything, I only want you to think about it." She is true to her word. Having spent time with people who work in the 'death trade', she allows them to tell their stories and the stories of people they've looked after, both the dead and the living left behind. With each chapter, we get In the afterword of this book, Hayley Campbell says: "The world is full of people telling you how to feel about death and dead bodies, and I don't want to be one of them - I don't want to tell you how to feel about anything, I only want you to think about it." She is true to her word. Having spent time with people who work in the 'death trade', she allows them to tell their stories and the stories of people they've looked after, both the dead and the living left behind. With each chapter, we get a glimpse into a profession: who these people are, what they do and why, and for me, an understanding of how vital and life-changing their work is for the families they come into contact with. Their work is fascinating and their dedication inspiring. There are professions I'd heard of but didn't know much about and others I didn't even know existed. For example, the organisation who quietly and professionally step in after major disasters to handle the logistics of looking after the dead and their families. Or the death mask sculptor who after he has taken casts of the dead, always cleans up and ensures he leaves them in the same state as when he arrived even though no-one would know if he didn't. It shouldn't be surprising, how much care and love these people put into their work, but it is, because I think many of us have never given it much thought. In real life, we don't usually think about these things until we have to and then we are too consumed by our own emotions to appreciate the quiet, patient support these people provide. Campbell writes in an honest, non-judgemental and personal way. She examines her own fascination with death and her reactions during and after her encounters with these people and their work. There's humanity and humour in these situations. The writing is engaging, as well as thoughtful and moving. Some people may find some chapters more difficult than others - the one about Clare the Bereavement Midwife had me in tears as I thought back to my own experience but it made me appreciate the choices hospital staff gave me at the time and that there is no straightforward right or wrong reaction. I found it a beautiful and heart-breaking chapter. There are many memorable stories that will stay with you, however, I didn't find it morbid or scary but wonderfully human - being human can be a pretty messy business anyway, alive or dead! One thing that struck me was when Lara, an Anatomical Pathologist Technician, relates how, in the wake of a tragedy in London, a hospital event acknowledged and appreciated the work done by those looking after the living but the dead and those looking after them seemed to be forgotten. This book was completed during lockdown and Campbell's afterword puts it into the context of Covid. When we stayed home to help stop the numbers of deaths climbing on all the graphs shown on those Covid updates on TV. When so many were facing losing loved ones without being able to be with them. When there was an outpouring of appreciation for key workers but many of us probably weren't thinking of those people looking after the dead, invisibly working under circumstances as difficult as any. With this book, Campbell brings these people and their incredible work to our attention. We will all experience death at some point and it is good to know that there are people who will support us in death with as much care as in life. A remarkable read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    How is our relationship to death? Mines not very good even though I’ve assisted in autopsies. This was a look at death unfiltered. Just as it is. Nothing coloring it or explaining it away. Nothing trying to hide the cold hard facts of it. The author shares that there is a difference between shock of death and shock of grief. Making things more difficult and uncomfortable. I learned about: • Body snatching and body donation • Funeral homes and clinical detachment • Death masks, Mass casualties How is our relationship to death? Mines not very good even though I’ve assisted in autopsies. This was a look at death unfiltered. Just as it is. Nothing coloring it or explaining it away. Nothing trying to hide the cold hard facts of it. The author shares that there is a difference between shock of death and shock of grief. Making things more difficult and uncomfortable. I learned about: • Body snatching and body donation • Funeral homes and clinical detachment • Death masks, Mass casualties and crime scene cleaners • Executioners , embalming, autopsy and Cryonics I was especially moved about the authors experience with the baby in the bath. It seems not matter how we try to deal with death it is still hard to see and feel. It’s like getting shot, it’s unforgettable. I chose to listen to this book on audio and the author narrated it. I swear she could narrator professionally and did way above average with her voice. I highly recommend listening to this and hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks Macmillan Audio via NetGalley.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Meow558

    All the Living and the Dead by Hayley Campbell is an intriguing read. In this book, Campbell meets with different death workers and interviews them. Her main goal is to learn how they do these jobs, how they deal with the trauma. This book fulfills its goal well. With every person she meets, Campbell asks them how they deal with it. She meets a wide amount of people, both the expected (like a funeral director) and the unexpected or less thought about (like a midwife). Campbell also teaches a litt All the Living and the Dead by Hayley Campbell is an intriguing read. In this book, Campbell meets with different death workers and interviews them. Her main goal is to learn how they do these jobs, how they deal with the trauma. This book fulfills its goal well. With every person she meets, Campbell asks them how they deal with it. She meets a wide amount of people, both the expected (like a funeral director) and the unexpected or less thought about (like a midwife). Campbell also teaches a little about the job, about what they do, often through watching. I found this the most interesting parts of the book, what each person exactly does. However, the book does not go as in detail about this as I would have liked. I wish she had said more about the process of cremating, for example. Campbell is also very fond of putting her opinions in, such as disbelieving someone's way of dealing with their job. I wish she had been more unbiased. I would recommend this book to someone who is curious about how death workers deal with their emotions and someone who is not concerned about a more personal book. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for this ARC on NetGalley.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    It probably says something about me that I took a break from a rather sad book about race in the US, saw an invitation from Netgalley to read this book, and thought, yes, that would give me a change of pace. But a change of pace it was. Hayley Campbell provides a fairly comprehensive look at the industry around death--about the behind-the-scenes workers most of us don't give much thought to: the crime scene cleaner, the funeral director, the grave digger, the man in charge of cadaver donations a It probably says something about me that I took a break from a rather sad book about race in the US, saw an invitation from Netgalley to read this book, and thought, yes, that would give me a change of pace. But a change of pace it was. Hayley Campbell provides a fairly comprehensive look at the industry around death--about the behind-the-scenes workers most of us don't give much thought to: the crime scene cleaner, the funeral director, the grave digger, the man in charge of cadaver donations at a well-known research hospital. Most of the stories she relates are those of highly compassionate people and some truly touching stories. Just like we appreciate the firefighters or ambulance drivers and EMTs, we should tip our hats to people who so often work without any thanks. Ms. Campbell is an outstanding writer and journalist and in All the Living and The Dead, she has created a riveting account of who takes care of us after death has claimed us.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    Journalistic explorations like this are most successful when the writer is passionate about the topic and Hayley Campbell's interest in death and the death industry shines through in an engaging and heartfelt way here. There are moments that, understandably, are not for the squeamish and some - particularly the chapter about a bereavement midwife are difficult and upsetting. Overall this is a fascinating and eye-opening study about attitudes to death and the practicalities of what happens when a Journalistic explorations like this are most successful when the writer is passionate about the topic and Hayley Campbell's interest in death and the death industry shines through in an engaging and heartfelt way here. There are moments that, understandably, are not for the squeamish and some - particularly the chapter about a bereavement midwife are difficult and upsetting. Overall this is a fascinating and eye-opening study about attitudes to death and the practicalities of what happens when a person dies. I left this book feeling like I had learnt a lot and explored my own feelings about death too.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tess Pfeifle

    All the Living and the Dead by Hayley Campbell: This BOOK! If you’re like me and enjoy exploring the darker parts of humanity and what it means to, well, be…then this is for you. Campbell searches out people in the field of death, from the ones you expect (like a Funeral Director) to the Unexpected (National Disaster Relief Teams) and just about everything in between. For fans of Caitlin Doughty but more journalistic, you need this in your life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    This is a really neat book! It is so needed and I highly recommend it! Once the deceased are actually dead, people go into a frenzy regarding the death and then the rituals needed. We all know this first hand. I believe that we could all stand to understand death a bit better. This book tells it as it is. Well done! Thank you to NetGalley and #St Martin's Press for this ARC and allowing me to provide my own review. This is a really neat book! It is so needed and I highly recommend it! Once the deceased are actually dead, people go into a frenzy regarding the death and then the rituals needed. We all know this first hand. I believe that we could all stand to understand death a bit better. This book tells it as it is. Well done! Thank you to NetGalley and #St Martin's Press for this ARC and allowing me to provide my own review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    PJ

    This is a comprehensive and informative book about the plethora of jobs and processes involved in the death industry. Campbell describes her interviews with decency and respect for the workers, their tasks, and the care the workers provide. Although Campbell started the book long before the COVID-19 pandemic, I appreciate that she included a chapter focusing on how what she learned affected her views on life and on the pandemic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Janalyn Prude

    “All the living and the dead,“ is a book about different professions that touch death. Most of the stories were truly intriguing and I found them quite interesting, but I have one problem with this book. First of all let me to say I have a big pet peeve with people mocking peoples religion. Everyone who wants to believe they’re a guy even though they’re born female should be respected and we should do the right pronouns but it’s OK to mock people who believe in God. That totally seems like a dou “All the living and the dead,“ is a book about different professions that touch death. Most of the stories were truly intriguing and I found them quite interesting, but I have one problem with this book. First of all let me to say I have a big pet peeve with people mocking peoples religion. Everyone who wants to believe they’re a guy even though they’re born female should be respected and we should do the right pronouns but it’s OK to mock people who believe in God. That totally seems like a double standard to me. We are supposed to respect those who totally look female but want to be referred to is he or they, but believing in God is just going to four and you just can’t play along? Throughout the book she made reference to Christianity in all religions Bing superstitions in fairytales. When she went to Virginia to meet The executioner for that state after he greeted them so nicely and was so kind to them all she could do is continuously ask the same question and act exacerbated after he gave her 10 different reasons why he wasn’t murdering them. She made reference to his superstitious beliefs, but had he met them and said he wanted to be referred to as a she she would’ve been all about that. That really made me angry I’m sure you could tell. Before this chapter I was totally enjoying the book despite her talk of superstitious beliefs and let me just say I love God I believe in God and if you think it’s superstitious will I feel sorry for you, but having said that I also respect those with other pronouns besides the obvious. As I was saying after I listen to that chapter she just left a bad taste in my mouth and it almost ruined the rest of the book, but not quite I still love the part about the corner, and especially the last chapter. I just wish if we’re going to respect some we should respect all. Because even if God is a superstition me believing he’s real isn’t hurting you at all. So I don’t know why you feel the need to disrespect my believes that I supposed to respect yours. That just don’t seem fair. I The narrator did a great job and I would’ve given her five stars had this been audible but it’s not. I received this box from net Gally and the The publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review but all opinions are definitely my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elisa

    In a society that sees death as a dirty little secret to be avoided at all costs, Hayley Campbell looks at it right in the face. This book is not about what will come next but about the most pedestrian aspects of dying. What will happen to our bodies, and who are the people who will be there for us. Morticians, cleaners and pathologists, the people who dig up the graves or those who bring dead babies into the world. Did you know that there are companies specialized in mass disasters? Like airpla In a society that sees death as a dirty little secret to be avoided at all costs, Hayley Campbell looks at it right in the face. This book is not about what will come next but about the most pedestrian aspects of dying. What will happen to our bodies, and who are the people who will be there for us. Morticians, cleaners and pathologists, the people who dig up the graves or those who bring dead babies into the world. Did you know that there are companies specialized in mass disasters? Like airplane crashes or tsunamis? How come I’d never thought of that? How did Campbell think to look? The book is very well researched, but it’s written in a way that makes her journey into death approachable. She makes you feel like you’re right there. She’s not squeamish and I’m not sure all readers will be able to get through all the material here. For example, she describes a postmortem in all its gory detail, which I found fascinating but probably would not have been able to stomach myself. But what surprised me the most is that a book that deals with decomposition, embalming, autopsies or executions, could be so poignant and touching. The author writes from a place of vulnerability, curiosity and respect, calling attention to a society that rightfully cheered for first responders during the worst pandemic in a century, but somehow never thought of the people dealing with the many, many dead bodies. She also has a sense of humor, so this is not a depressing read. Lastly, I try to never judge a book by its cover but this must be the most gorgeous one I’ve seen in a while. Five stars! I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, #NetGalley/#St. Martin's Press!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gemma Williams

    This is an outstandingly good and beautifully written book about the death industry and death workers, from grave diggers, ATPs, embalmers, funeral directors and executioners to cryonics operatives, crematory staff, detectives and crime scene cleaners, among others. It's full of fascinating and sometimes horrifying detail ,written thoughtfully and with compassion and no glibness. The chapter on bereavement midwives - I never knew this even existed - is stunning, heart breaking. Highly recommende This is an outstandingly good and beautifully written book about the death industry and death workers, from grave diggers, ATPs, embalmers, funeral directors and executioners to cryonics operatives, crematory staff, detectives and crime scene cleaners, among others. It's full of fascinating and sometimes horrifying detail ,written thoughtfully and with compassion and no glibness. The chapter on bereavement midwives - I never knew this even existed - is stunning, heart breaking. Highly recommended ( but approach with caution if you're squeamish )

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Hayley Campbell highlights different professionals that work in field related to death in All the Living and the Dead. It is a pretty enlightening collection, where some jobs I had not thought about were discussed as well as some more familiar death-related fields. Some of the more familiar ones include individuals who work in anatomy labs with medical schools, morticians, and crime season cleaners. Some fascinating chapters were about individuals working as mass casualty investigators and state Hayley Campbell highlights different professionals that work in field related to death in All the Living and the Dead. It is a pretty enlightening collection, where some jobs I had not thought about were discussed as well as some more familiar death-related fields. Some of the more familiar ones include individuals who work in anatomy labs with medical schools, morticians, and crime season cleaners. Some fascinating chapters were about individuals working as mass casualty investigators and state executioners. I also found out about an occupation I had not heard of before- midwives who specialize in bereavement. The expectation is they are involved in deliveries of stillborns and children who are expected to live only a short time out of the womb. Talk about a field requiring a special person to work and thrive in. Death is a topic that people are fascinated by, and Campbell was able to provide insight and empathy for individuals working in difficult fields. I can imagine fans of Caitlin Doughty's work will enjoy this book (there is some overlap in content). Thanks to St. Martin's Press via NetGalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elysian Fields

    All the Living and the Dead is an engaging read. It honors death and humanity and allows the reader an in depth look at death from an industry in its many forms to the people who encounter it every day; and it is done with the humility, respect, and truth. The books cover topics and asks questions though expert interviews and examples of history, from embalmers, investigators, professors, former executioners, gravediggers, scientists, detectives, cleaners and so many more. I loved how the author All the Living and the Dead is an engaging read. It honors death and humanity and allows the reader an in depth look at death from an industry in its many forms to the people who encounter it every day; and it is done with the humility, respect, and truth. The books cover topics and asks questions though expert interviews and examples of history, from embalmers, investigators, professors, former executioners, gravediggers, scientists, detectives, cleaners and so many more. I loved how the author asked questions that gave a more inclusive and often overlooked aspects of death, how it is processed and how it effects everyone (not just the immediate family of the deceased). The way these stories are told is real, true, and in a respectful way. The author takes the time to allow the reader to feel the humanity, the emotions and the rawness of the topic but also gives the reader a true positive understanding and greater respect for death and its workers. There is so much heart within these pages, it makes the topic accessible and engaging. I received an ARC via Netgalley and St. Martin's Press and I am leaving an honest review.

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