A “marvelously macabre” (Kirkus Reviews) history of the bizarre afterlives of corpses of the celebrated and notorious dead.
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 that crisscross the globe and stretch the imagination.
Counterfeiters tried to steal Lincoln’s corpse. Einstein’s brain went on a cross-country road trip. And after Lord Horatio Nelson perished at Trafalgar, his sailors submerged him in brandy—which they drank.
From Alexander the Great to Elvis Presley, and from Beethoven to Dorothy Parker, Rest in Pieces connects the lives of the famous dead to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses, and traces the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death.
Repeatedly illustrating with a hearseload of case studies that "final resting place" is a relative term, Lovejoy (a contributing writer for the Schott's Almanac series) digs up a litany of strange-but-true tales of the postmortem adventures of all manner of famous corpses throughout history. In many cases, the cadavers or their skeletons were left intact, but others weren't so lucky Napoleon and Rasputin reportedly both lost their penises after death (and for the record, Dillinger's is not at the Smithsonian). The fate of some bodies, such as those of Ted Williams, Lenin, Eva Per n, and Hunter S. Thompson, are fairly well-known, but readers will be surprised to learn the story behind the disappearance of Geronimo's skull (as well as its alleged link to the Bush family) and the curious travels of Dorothy Parker's remains (both the Algonquin Hotel and the New Yorker passed on hosting them until, via a bizarre and circuitous route, the NAACP stepped forward and claimed them). Buoyed by rigorous research and wry humor, Lovejoy's compilation is sure to fuel more than a few cocktail party conversations. B&w illus. throughout.