Death and the Afterlife – Clifford A. Pickover

https___wordery.com_jackets_4eec2768_m_9781454914341.jpgThroughout history, the nature and mystery of death has captivated artists, scientists, philosophers, physicians, and theologians. This eerie chronology ventures right to the borderlines of science and sheds light into the darkness. Here, topics as wide ranging as the Maya death gods, golems, and séances sit side by side with entries on zombies and quantum immortality. With the turn of every page, readers will encounter beautiful artwork, along with unexpected insights about death and what may lie beyond.

I liked this book, with the hard cover, gold type font and full size images to go with the various death-related topics. From burial techniques to vampires and zombies, the book is a great gift for any fan of the morbid tales (like me) and presents even interesting books I have not yet read that would be a great addition to my library.


Besides that, it goes from ancient times when people used to either cremate their dead or embalm them for eternity to modern day burial practices, cemeteries and even Death Certificates. One of the best parts about this book is that it tackles so many subjects on death that if you’re not sure what you really want to read more about, you can just see a quick synopsis and then go and find related material.


I liked the medical oddities in the book but they’re not at all comprehensive (more like 10% of all I’ve seen in medical journals). It’s a book written for the masses and it’s a good thing it doesn’t go into that much detail otherwise this lithe book might have turned into a massive compendium about why people die.


There’s also something for the art fanatics. Paintings by famous artists from all corners of the earth adorn the pages.

These are a few of the ones I liked:

The Ladder of Divine Ascent, a twelfth-century painting at St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt. The monks are tempted and pulled down by demons, while angels encourage them to continue their ascent to the top of the thirty-rung ladder, where Jesus is waiting for them. At the bottom of the painting, the gaping mouth of the Devil is visible.
This illustration by famous Japanese painter and printmaker Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861) shows an enormous ghost reciting a poem outside the study of the poet Minamoto no Tsunenobu (1016–1097).
The Egyptian Book of the Dead– The ancient Egyptian ritual of “opening of the mouth” described in the Book of the Dead is performed so that the deceased can eat and drink in the afterlife. In this c. 1300 BCE papyrus, the jackal-headed god Anubis is shown supporting the mummy of the scribe Hunefer while three priests carry out the ritual.
The Story of Orpheus: Cerberus (1875) by British artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898).
The Garden of Death (watercolor and gouache) by Hugo Simberg, 1896.

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