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Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses
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Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  868 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
IN THE LONG RUN, WE’RE ALL DEAD. But for some of the most influential figures in history, death marked the start of a new adventure.

The famous deceased have been stolen, burned, sold, pickled, frozen, stuffed, impersonated, and even filed away in a lawyer’s office. Their fingers, teeth, toes, arms, legs, skulls, hearts, lungs, and nether regions have embarked on voyages th
Hardcover, 329 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Most people know about the resurrectionists, the grave robbers who provided bodies for medical students in the 19th century, but a lot of other things have happened to corpses. They have been stolen to use as religious relics, held for ransom, used as exhibits, moved from place to place- not always in complete form, shot into space (at least that one was the wish of the deceased), destroyed to prevent it being used as a political symbol, and preserved and displayed them as political symbols. Mos ...more
David Sumner
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
What a fun read. Fascinating and hilarious all at once. An interesting look at some of the strangest human behavior to persist through the ages.
Nicola Mansfield
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book briefly, but on several occasions, insults Catholics & the Orthodox but I will address that at the end. As I browsed though the table of contents I was quite surprised at how well read I've become on this rather macabre topic as I noticed expected names. I then proceeded to look for some specific names to see if they were included and found everyone so I was quite pleased with the read ahead of me. At first I was a little disappointed that the book was not written as a cohesive uni ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ein großartiges Klobuch für Grufties.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
A really fun read. I wasn't sure I'd like it at first; I can't remember why but it seemed to be something about the details or lack thereof. As I continued thought, I enjoyed it more and more. The funniest story is about the ashes for D.H. Lawrence. Seems his wife decided that his ashes should be taken to Taos, NM where they had a ranch. She had built a small shrine to his honor and wanted the ashes there. They had to come from England through a series of friends, who kept forgetting the urn var ...more
Paul Pessolano
Mar 18, 2013 rated it liked it
“Rest in Pieces” by Bess Lovejoy, published by Simon and Schuster.

Category – History

This book could be considered History, maybe macabre, and possibly maybe even funny. I guess it is what you want to make of it.

Bess Lovejoy has put together about 50 stories of people famous and infamous that have died and left a “legacy” about their remains. She has broken it down into sections ranging from Politics to Unsolved Mysteries.

The stories range from people who have been beheaded and the travels of the
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this book. It was a very intriguing read, and I cannot believe some of the things people have done with others' remains in the name of love, hate, or just owning some cool memento to brag about. It also is kind of sad that in all of these different stories, very few of them got their dying wishes. Some of the ones that did had to wait years, others had the exact opposite imposed upon their remains. This is a must read for anyone who loves medical curiosity, urban legends, his ...more
Raamatusse on koondatud kuulsate koolnute eriskummalised juhtumid (tõelevastavus kontrollitud), mõni kurb, mõni lõbus. Näiteks Hunter S. Thompsoni viimane, suursugune soov, maadeuurija segadus Kolumbuse säilmete asukoha üle jne. Huvitav on ka autori väide, et läbi nende lugude saame aimu ka kadunukusese kaasajast. Nii lihtsale asjale ma varem polnudki mõelnud, seega nüüd maailmapilt jälle natukese avardus.
Lisaks on Lovejoy kirjutamisstiil väga nauditav ning ainuüksi seepärast oli keeruline raam
Colleen Laffin
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is about what happened to the bodies of famous people after they died Overall, I enjoyed this book. My favorite thing about it was reading how attitudes toward dead bodies and body parts changed over time. In less than two hundred years it went from being acceptable to stick Oliver Cromwell's head on a spike above Parliament for all to see, to being unacceptable to display his skull at a museum. I recommend this book if you don't have much time to read, since it is broken down both by ...more
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Liz Ross Jones
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting and fun read for this Halloween season :)
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is just a ton of fun. Well researched and written with a great sense of humor, this is a book that I did not want to end. I've read other books about the manner of famous deaths or even their burials, but this one goes far beyond - into what happened to all or pieces of the famous person after they were dead, be it from stealing, religious fanaticism, or simply home town pride. Like my other favorite non-fiction writer, Mary Roach, the author Bess Lovejoy has a deft touch and a great c ...more
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting read !! I'm amazed at how many bodies have been buried throughout the years with our their heads, hearts, and penises !!! Also, many have had their remains moved for decades and finally are interred in several places. I guess it's a good book for a Funeral Director !! LOL
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty quick, but very fun and informational read. I appreciate Lovejoy's wit and sense of humor when dealing with as difficult a subject as death and corpses. If you're curious at all about the final fate of your favorite poets, musicians, and celebrities, Lovejoy's book is a must-read!
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book! Who knew so many crazy things have happened to people’s bodies after death?
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: death-studies
An entertaining book, I am amazed on the amount of skulls being stolen for Phrenology. Even the dead talk sometimes.
Kathy Wojo
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
People are weird.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I think I am ready to write a review for this.
Have you ever picked up a good, with all sorts of good intentions and expectations, and then like 4 pages you can barely remember them, if at all? This book was much like that. I remember mine because I had to explain it to everyone that happened to walk past my desk, then in defense for while I would think of forcing this on my unsuspecting buddy for our first ever "buddy-read."

So, what was I expecting? I was expecting a somewhat light and humorous
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Sometimes the strangest books catch my eye and this one seemed ghouslihly enticing. Author Lovejoy has done extensive research on some very famous corpses and their final resting place, or in some cases, resting places. She readily admits that some of the information in the book is most likely mythical but whether it can be proven or not the short chapters dealing with the famous and infamous are interesting. Many a body was buried without its skull whether by theft or the desire of loved ones t ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it
First sentence: "A corpse is always a problem--both for the living and for the dead."

In this book, Bess Lovejoy answers the question "but what happened after they died?" Here you will find where famous body parts ended up; everything from Einstein's brain to Napoleon's, ahem, nether regions. You will also learn about bodies held for ransom (or attempted snatchings). There are stories of leaders and dictators being preserved for posterity. Unusual resting places abound in the pages. One thing you
David Caldwell
I won a copy on Goodreads Firstreads.

In this collection, the author set two rules for who could be included.They had to be famous during their life.Something weird had to have happened to their remains.The entries range form Saint Nicholas to Hunter S. Thompson.There are tales of remains being turned into religious Relics.Famous skulls were often stolen for the pseudo-science of phrenology that was popular during Victorian times.Other cases involved how to deal with political corpses, bodies bei
Larry Tornari
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-won
“Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses by Bess Lovejoy” book is a great read. It kept me glued to the book and I never wanted to put in down. In fact I was disappointed when it ended. The one good thing is that Bess, notes where she received her facts from in an extensive source section that allows readers to check on the “stories” if they wish so that they can learn more about the famous corpses.

Basically the books tells about, “famous corpses” and the manner in which they died a
Meg Harper
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended through, I believe, a podcast about famous dead people and the hosts used this and a couple other sources for their research. I became intrigued so I sought it out and while it's not the best decision I have ever made, it definitely gave me a few chuckles. I also learned a little more about what happens after death that for some reason I never knew or blocked and I have read a few books on that. It thankfully was an end chapter so I could have skipped it but I didn't li ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Unlike the usual "how they died" encyclopedias, "Rest in Pieces" is an encyclopedia of "what happened to them after they died." Lovejoy's criteria for inclusion in the book: the people had to be famous and they couldn't rest peacefully in an undisturbed grave for eternity.

That's not to say this doesn't include the stories you expect: Vladimir Lenin's permanent snooze in his mausoleum in Red Square, Evita Peron's postmortem kidnapping, the road trips of Einstein's brain. In addition to those, it
Joanie Sompayrac
Jul 05, 2016 rated it liked it
It should be noted up front that I have always had a bit of a fascination with death. I cannot explain it, but I am often drawn to books that tell me what what happens to bodies after we die or how famous people screw up their wills and estates. That said, this was a fascinating little book, but at times it ran a bit long. Admittedly, there were some chapters that held more interest for me than others -- Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, Beethoven, Hitler, Elvis, Columbus, John Barrymore and Mussolini. T ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"A corpse is always a problem — both for the living and for the dead." Macabre, witty, and extremely well documented; Lovejoy gave me something that I have been missing for a long time... an enjoyable read from start to finish. Some of these stories will be well known to those of us who have a fascination with the strange (who among us didn't grow up looking for a girl like Mary Shelley who will keep our heart as a memento after we die?), but all are well written. The chapters are concise and or ...more
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a book you can read a little at a time and still enjoy. It's a sometimes amusing, sometimes gruesome, often strange, and completely fascinating look at how famous corpses have been revered and desecrated throughout history.

The book is neatly divided into different categories, like "Saints and Sinners," and "Love and Devotion," and provides an curious collection of people, from the political arena to the artistic and scientific. I would think that for some people picking up this book with
David V.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Received as an ARC from the publisher. Finished in just a few days. Wonderfully macabre. Stories about famous people and what happened to their corpses. Most of the stories are just 3-4 pages long. Many of the stories surprised me about the bodies becoming "pieces parts" and being buried in more than one location. Some were sad--Thomas Paine and John Paul Jones. Great figures in history with less than glorious burials. Some were almost comical--Australia's version of Jesse James, Ned Kelly. Othe ...more
Chelsey Quack
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Overall, this book is interesting and pretty strong. The research seems all there and, considering each chapter is only a short introduction to each corpse, the information included seems well rounded and concise without being dry or leaving a lot of questions. A great starting off point if this is something you're interested in but haven't read a lot of before.

On the other hand, I took it down a whole star rating because the book doesn't resonate much after completion. While it's really intere
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Goodreads Librari...: Too many pages listed 3 22 Jun 16, 2013 12:48PM  
  • Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker's Trail of Blood
  • The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses
  • After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses
  • The Whole Death Catalog: A Lively Guide to the Bitter End
  • Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War
  • Funerals to Die For: The Craziest, Creepiest, and Most Bizarre Funeral Traditions and Practices Ever
  • Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography
  • Mortician Diaries: The Dead-Honest Truth from a Life Spent with Death
  • Hikikomori: Adolescence without End
  • Necropolis: London and Its Dead
  • Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt
  • We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger's Daughter
  • Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die
  • Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy
  • The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries
  • Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? A Tour of Presidential Gravesites
  • The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder Traced
  • The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece
Bess Lovejoy is a writer, researcher, and editor based in Seattle and Brooklyn. She writes about dead people, forgotten history, and sometimes art, literature, and science. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Believer, The Boston Globe, The Stranger, and other publications. She worked on the Schott’s Almanac series for five years.
More about Bess Lovejoy...