The Last Word: The New York Times Book of Obituaries and Farewells : a Celebration of Unusual Lives

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Marvin Siegel
W. Morrow, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 426 pages
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The Last Word is a fascinating compilation of more than one hundred of the most colorful, entertaining, and touching obits and farewells that have appeared in The Times in the last few years. It deliberately omits celebrities to concentrate on an eclectic mix of lesser-known but remarkable men and women whose compelling lives have enriched the tale of life in the twentieth century. You may not have heard of Julian Hill, for example, but he revolutionized our lives as the inventor of nylon, and you'll learn more about him in The Last Word. You'll also meet others like him: a quiet man who braved the hostility of racists to integrate the University of Georgia; a woman who turned her recipe for chopped liver into a million-dollar business; the hustler who gave the Beat Generation its very name; a reclusive woman who turned a $5,000 nest egg into a $22 million fortune that she left to a school she never attended; a splendid actor who died for a living. Although many worthy deeds were performed by the people you will encounter in this book, not everyone had a strong character. Most were decent, but not all. Some were the life of the party, some never got out of the house. Some lived long enough to have led several lives. A few died before they really had much chance to live. The collection also includes commentary by some of The Time's finest reporters, columnists, and critics and by such well-known contributors as Jules Feiffer, William E. Geist, James Gleick, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Anna Quindlen, William Styron, and Wendy Wasserstein.

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The last word: the New York times book of obituaries and farewells: a celebration of unusual lives

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It is nearly impossible to name a favorite farewell among the 100 honored in this compilation of obituaries (few if any famous names are included). In his foreword, Russell Baker takes a light ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Siegel is an assistant to the managing editor of The New York Times.

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