A Move to Ease Death's Sting

After an eleven-year fight, the FTC curbs undertakers

More than two decades have passed since Jessica Mitford, in her 1963 exposé The American Way of Death, attacked the U.S. funeral industry as a "grotesque cloud-cuckoo-land where the trappings of Gracious Living are transformed, as in a nightmare, into the trappings of Gracious Dying." Mitford accused morticians of inflating funeral costs by foisting upon grieving customers such frills as high-fashion gravewear for the body and ornate caskets equipped with comfortable innerspring mattresses. Though the book stirred public indignation and helped lead to numerous investigations of the funeral business, it was not...

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