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Economist Book of Obituaries

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  68 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
This collection of obituaries tells the life stories of two hundred of the world's most captivating people as judged by writers Ann Wroe and Keith Colquhoun and as published in The Economist from 1994 to 2008. Each stylishly written story and accompanying photograph surprises, entertains, and stimulates. The titled, wealthy, and powerful are here, of course, including Dian ...more
Hardcover, 409 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Bloomberg Press (first published October 2nd 2008)
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Brenda Clough
Oct 12, 2011 rated it liked it
This review originally appeared in the International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Magazine

Modern American obituaries, viewable in your daily newspaper, are straightforward accounts about people of note or of local fame. Over at today’s New York Times, to take a typical sample, there is an obit of a Belgian-born songwriter who made it to Broadway, and the US admiral who planned the invasion of Grenada. These are written to a standard form and cover ground we all can recite in o
Apr 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My Overall Opinion of the Book
This book was fascinating, educational, funny, political, and judgmental. It is almost never sad. A collection of 200 obituaries written between 1994 to 2008 (each one two pages long), The Economist Book of Obituaries is oddly enjoyable and fascinating. It may sound a strange book to read, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Even if you are not a fan of obituaries (and there are many obituary fans out there), I think you could enjoy this book purely from an enterta
Nilendu Misra
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps THE best book about and around death to celebrate lives. Lives of a talking parrot who died before 'he grasped the meaning of seven' to proponent of 'Catastrophe theory' who believed women are less fragile than men because they are 'more spherical, and sphere is the strongest shape in the universe'!
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Marvelous. Learned a ton about people I never knew about.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another find at the senior center bookstore! I have always been a fan of the New York Times obituaries-- it is a real skill to convey a life in 1000 or so words. Obituaries did not make it into The Economist for 150 years so they have a shorter track record, but they have a distinctive style and are full of lesser known aspects of the deceased's life. Some of my favorites in this collection are Bip (Marcel Marceau), Lady Bird Johnson, Walter Lini and Thor Heyerdahl. Many of the people I was not ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Serviceable for micro-biographies. Lots of variety, and a very culturally-broadening selection of people for me. But this did not convert me into an obituary junkie. A lot of the obits had weird pacing... long gazing and ruminating over a minor point, then a sudden end. Some of them felt like they were cut off in the middle of a thought (especially egregious for this was the one on the Challenger astronauts). I understand needing to be pithy and impactful, but... a cliff face is as good as a ram ...more
Tobias Barker
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-audio, mindful
Although to some I'm sure this book seems like I have a morbid interest in death, quite far from it! I can honestly say this was one if the most interesting reads I've ever explored. From gangsters, musicians, geishas & politicians, this book explores some incredible lives that I for one found captivating & inspiring. If you are a fan of chicken soup for the soul series, this book could be of interest.
Valentin Ivanov
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Being a long-time reader of the Economist, naturally I enjoy their last-page obituaries. Having read this collection I have to say that the obituaries from the last 4-5 years are definitely better than those written in the 90s. Still, a great book for those 10-20 spare minutes you have, considering each piece is a couple of pages long.
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was a great read- the obituaries are from a large and diverse group of people. It was poignant in places, funny in others but really it was never depressing or sad. I really enjoyed getting to 'know' some people I otherwise never would have 'met.'

Seth Mann
Dec 29, 2008 marked it as to-read
great book. . . great collection covering some of the major (and not so major) players in the 20th century. very smart, concise, informative and often funny. can serve as a launching pad into other subject areas as well...
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
The title is deceiving. This book is more about the living contributuions of some pretty interesting people than it is about chronicling death. One of those books that you can just pick up and read a chapter/subject out of order, whenever you have about 10 minutes! Inspiring.
Blythe Beecroft
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this collection of obituaries immensely, especially the variety in the selection of people. Each one was unique and never predictable. This collection captures all that makes the Economist great -- wit, brevity, and powerful writing.
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Confined to the couch with a sprained ankle, I spent my time reading The Economist’s Book of Obituaries. Morbid? No! The brief life stories of hundreds of people (and one parrot) are perfect gems, and left me fascinated by the paths we take and choices we make in a lifetime.
Apr 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Nov 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I enjoy reading this at night . . . a fun book to browse. The Economist takes the obituary to a whole new level.
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, own
A collection of obituaries from The Economist that are wonderfully witty and not altogether flattering.
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The obituaries in The Economist are wonderfully written and cover a diversity of people, and always capture not only why the subject was important but a glimpse into the life they led.
Julie Davis
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Obituaries of the famous and obscure as only the British can write them: dryly witty and with an eye to the seeming contradictions within each person that make us all interesting.
Phillip Donnelly
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Nov 20, 2008
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