Over My Dead Body


Over My Dead Body: Unearthing the Hidden History of America’s Cemeteries

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A lively tour through the history of US cemeteries that explores how, where, and why we bury our dead

The summer before his senior year in college, Greg Melville worked at the cemetery in his hometown, and thanks to hour upon hour of pushing a mower over the grassy acres, he came to realize what a rich story the place told of his town and its history. Thus was born Melville’s lifelong curiosity with how, where, and why we bury and commemorate our dead.

Melville’s Over My Dead Body is a lively (pun intended) and wide-ranging history of cemeteries, places that have mirrored the passing eras in history but have also shaped it. Cemeteries have given birth to landscape architecture and famous parks, as well as influenced architectural styles. They’ve inspired and motivated some of our greatest poets and authors—Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson. They’ve been used as political tools to shift the country’s discourse and as important symbols of the United States’ ambition and reach.

But they are changing and fading. Embalming and burial is incredibly toxic, and while cremations have just recently surpassed burials in popularity, they’re not great for the environment either. Over My Dead Body explores everything—history, sustainability, land use, and more—and what it really means to memorialize.

Locales visited in Over My Dead Body:

Shawsheen Cemetery – Bedford, Massachusetts

The 1607 Burial Ground – Historic Jamestowne, Virginia

Burial Hill – Plymouth, Massachusetts

Colonial Jewish Burial Ground – Newport, Rhode Island

Monticello’s African American Graveyard – Charlottesville, Virginia

Mount Auburn Cemetery – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Green-Wood Cemetery – Brooklyn, New York

Laurel Grove Cemetery – Savannah, Georgia

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery – Concord, Massachusetts

Central Park – New York, New York

Gettysburg National Cemetery – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, Virginia

Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx, New York

Boothill Graveyard – Tombhill, Arizona

Forest Lawn Memorial-Park – Glenwood, California

The Chapel of the Chimes – Oakland, California

Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Los Angeles, California

Nature’s Sanctuary – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Over My Dead Body: Unearthing the Hidden History of America’s Cemeteries
Author: Greg Melville
Published: October 4, 2022
Pages: 272
Dimensions: ‎
6.45 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
Format: Hardcover

Additional information

Weight 1.02 lbs
Dimensions 6.45 × 1.2 × 9.4 in

Publication Year