Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving

S. & S. Nov. 2019. 384p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781501197628. $29.99. BIOG
Rocca (correspondent, CBS Sunday Morning) writes obituaries for such individuals as Thomas Paine and Audrey Hepburn—people who he feels were not appropriately honored when they died, either because their contributions were underappreciated or their death was overshadowed by world events. Each “mobituary” includes highlights of the person’s life, an account of their main contributions to society, and Rocca’s assessment of their importance and influence. Shorter, paragraph-length “mobituaries” are grouped thematically and appear between chapters. Rocca’s trademark humor and satire are present throughout and he also includes personal anecdotes, including a touching closing tribute to his father. Although more space is given to profiles of entertainers, sports stars, and politicians, there are also “mobituaries” for objects (station wagon, Hadrian’s Wall), countries (Prussia), creatures (dragons), and incorrect scholarship (medieval science). Many of the stories have been featured on Rocca’s podcast of the same name, though readers can enjoy the book without listening to the podcast.
VERDICT This amusing, concise, and sometimes tender collection of profiles is recommended for readers content with short biographies in a limited narrative format.

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