Here Lies America

Here Lies America: A Collection of Notable GravesHere Lies America: A Collection of Notable Graves by Nancy Eills

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every collection of the graves of famous people is idiosyncratic, reflecting the passions and curiosity of the photographers. Because this collection comes from the 1970s, it feels even more wacky than usual.

Oh, there are the usual suspects: Jack Kerouac, Henry David Thoreau, Harry Houdini, Babe Ruth. There are also names I’d never heard before: Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (author of Mary Had a Little Lamb — who knew?), Lydia Estes Pinkham (who posed for the first photograph used in advertising), Anna M. Jarvis (founder of Mother’s Day in the US), and James Fisk Jr. described as a financial buckaneer.

In between were the people who really interested me: Lizzie Borden, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Cole Porter, Milton Hersey. I feel as if I visited a whole lot of graves that I hadn’t known anything about before.

The text leans heavily on biography and doesn’t have nearly enough graveyard description for my tastes. The photos are pedestrian black-and-white. Still, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected and read every single page carefully. I’m glad to add it to my collection.

You can get your own copy for very cheap on Amazon.

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