In the extensively illustrated Buried Alive. Jan Bondeson explores the medicine, folklore, history, and literature of Europe and the United States to uncover why such fears arose, and whether they were warranted. He looks at the bizarre nineteenth-century security coffins with bellropes or escape hatches, and the macabre waiting mortuaries for decaying corpses. Finally, he questions whether our criteria for determining if someone is dead today are truly reliable. When one 18th-century French Except for tabloid reporters and fans of Edgar Allan Poe, few Americans today give a thought to an obsession that haunted their ancestors, the possibility of premature burial.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Buried Alive by Jan Bondeson.
Readers of Edgar Allan Poe's tales—just think of The Premature Burial —may comfort themselves with the notion that Poe must have exaggerated: surely people of the s could not have been at risk of being buried alive? But such stories filled medical journals as well as fiction, and fear in the populace was high.
It was speculated, from the number of skeletons found in hor Readers of Edgar Allan Poe's tales—just think of The Premature Burial —may comfort themselves with the notion that Poe must have exaggerated: surely people of the s could not have been at risk of being buried alive?
It was speculated, from the number of skeletons found in horrific, contorted positions inside their coffins, that ten out of every one hundred people were buried before they were dead. With over fifty illustrations, Buried Alive explores the medicine, folklore, history, and literature of Europe and the United States to uncover why such fears arose and whether they were warranted.
Cremation never sounded so good. Deserves a place on every bedside table in America. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published March 17th by W. Norton Company first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 4. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Buried Alive , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Oct 16, Kirsten rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , own. I enjoyed this cultural history of the fear of being buried alive, the often-foggy definitions of death and methods of determining death through the ages, and the scientific methods developed to ensure that individuals weren't buried alive.
I was a little frustrated with the organization of the book, though. Bondeson starts out with horrifying stories of people being buried alive, and then goes directly into the historical reasons people might have had reason to fear live burial. This is all v I enjoyed this cultural history of the fear of being buried alive, the often-foggy definitions of death and methods of determining death through the ages, and the scientific methods developed to ensure that individuals weren't buried alive.
This is all very interesting; doctors often weren't available to confirm that a patient was dead, so a comatose patient with a faint heartbeat might easily be mistaken for dead by family members. Moreover, doctors themselves weren't always certain how to define death, since patients sometimes revived after apparently ceasing respiratory and cardiovascular function this was particularly a problem in the days before stethoscopes. Bondeson then moves back into tales of live burials, or near-live burials.
It seems it wasn't unheard of for individuals to revive while being prepared for burial, which of course led to fears of people reviving AFTER burial. This led in some countries, like Germany, to the construction of death houses, where corpses were kept until clear signs of putrefecation were seen, and where they were linked to complex alarm systems that would alert watchmen to a corpses revival of course, given a corpse's tendency to shift as it putrefies, there were many false alarms From the death house of Munich we move to patented survival coffins with alarms, and various other instruments sold to the paranoid.
The answer? Probably not, or at least not often, and it's even less likely that people were waking up in their coffins. He finally examines the reasons that observers might assume disinterred corpses had been buried alive, and discredits most of the scare stories.
I found this sort of tease kind of annoying, since his introduction is filled with so many lurid tales that he never thoroughly examines until the end of the book.
Overall, this is a pretty good book, though, and it's some fascinating history. May 21, Josephine Jo rated it it was ok Shelves: books-i-own , on-goodreads , non-fiction.
There are many tales of being buried alive in times gone by that would make your blood run cold! This book tells of these stories and the methods used by different countries to try and prevent any accidental internment of a living soul. From the 's right up until the late 19th century people had a morbid fear of being buried alive. The book shows many pictures of the various ingenuous and sometimes downright impractical contraptions that were invented for the purpose.
Many different countrie There are many tales of being buried alive in times gone by that would make your blood run cold! Many different countries built huge mortuary buildings and Germany in particular seems to have had a morbid fascination with such things. Many different methods were used to try and verify that a person was actually dead and some of these were so unpleasant that the person would not have wanted to be alive and suffer the test.
Other tests were downright ridiculous and, even though it was a serious book, I found myself laughing whilst reading it. Many of the blood curdling stories have no verification and seem to have been adapted and uses all of the world to fit in with the local folk lore, little was changed except for names although the stories often got more 'embroidered as they went along'.
The only thing that I found a little tedious was the repetitive nature of the book; the stories were told about someone in, maybe, France and then retold about someone in Germany. This happened many times over and I got a bit bored. Otherwise an interesting book to read. I have been reading a little at a time over quite a long period of time. View all 4 comments. Apr 19, East Bay J rated it it was ok Shelves: history. This book was not bad. It was certainly interesting, though Bondeson's writing often strayed into uninteresting territory.
The amount of repetition was extraordinary, almost mind boggling at times. The same cases, discussed over and over. The final two chapters, one on whether people were once buried alive, the other on whether people are still buried alive, seemed like the happy This book was not bad.
The final two chapters, one on whether people were once buried alive, the other on whether people are still buried alive, seemed like the happy ending Bondeson subtly ridiculed in the overly long chapter on premature burial in literature. Definitely interesting and definitely worth the sometimes difficult read. Dec 06, Jen rated it really liked it Recommends it for: those curious about fear, death, and societal conventions regarding death. Very amusing read for such a macabre subject.
I was fascinated and yet disgusted by the history of Germany's "death houses". The many bizarre inventions created to avoid being buried alive were laughable and torturous. I also read Stiff and found it to be just as good or better in terms of tone and readability.
Oct 05, Nancy rated it it was ok. Surprising for a book that has a subject that's very title inspires fear. I guess it's a thorough account, so I have to give the author credit for that, but do we need to go over every novel which uses being buried alive as a plot point?
I'll save you the trouble of reading the book by telling you t Boooo-ring. I'll save you the trouble of reading the book by telling you that there are definitive accounts of people being buried alive through the 20th century -- not a whole lot, of course, but once they're buried, how are you going to know?
The ones that are documented were dug up a few days later because somebody heard some noise from the coffin only possible in a shallow grave, or before they're deeply buried or, in one case, someone who was dug up for insurance purposes.
Some poor sod in China was under for six days. Past instances of premature burials, as they're called, happened probably more often when there have been plagues and people don't want germy corpses hanging around, or when people have been buried without a doctor being consulted.
Can't be good for business. Makes getting embalmed seem like a pretty worthwhile idea. Shelves: non-fiction. Perhaps it is that lack of fear concerning premature burial that made me so interesting in reading this book in the first place.
The book is divided into twelve chapters. The first two deal mainly with different reports, stories, and myths surrounding cases of premature burial throughout history. Bondeson helps weed out the clearly fictional stories by detailing common elements that run throughout almost every single story.
There are two problems with these chapters. Secondly, these stories are not contained to these two chapters. In almost every single section we continuously have more fairy tales of premature burial heaped upon us. As I said, if this is what your looking for, great.
Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fearrn
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Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear
No eBook available Amazon. Grave matters are treated with wit and erudition in this study of premature burial throughout Western history, from physician Bondeson The London Monster, , etc. When one 18th-century French Read full review. Except for tabloid reporters and fans of Edgar Allan Poe, few Americans today give a thought to an obsession that haunted their ancestors, the possibility of premature burial. Expanding a chapter in