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This engaging new book takes a fresh approach to the major topics surrounding the processes and rituals of death and dying in the United States. It emphasizes individual experiences and personal reactions to death as well as placing mortality within a wider social context, drawing on theoretical frameworks, empirical research and popular culture. Throughout the text the authors highlight the importance of two key factors in American society which determine who dies and under what circumstances: persistent social inequality and the American consumerist ethic. These features are explored through a discussion of topics ranging from debates about euthanasia to deaths resulting from war and terrorism; from the death of a child to children's experience of grieving and bereavement; and from beliefs about life after death to more practical issues such as the disposal of the dead body. Drawing on sociological, anthropological, philosophical, and historical research the authors present the salient features of death and dying for upper-level students across the social sciences. For anyone interested in learning more about the end of life, this book will provide a useful and accessible perspective on the uniquely American understanding of death and dying.