American perspectives on death seem strangely paradoxical. Our newspapers confront the brutal fact of death directly, from the front page headlines to the back page funeral announcements. Americans seem capable of accepting death as an everyday affair—someone is always dying somewhere, frequently under most unhappy circumstances. To account for this absorbing interest in death (even death by violence), one need not attribute to the reading public an especially vigorous appetite for gruesome details. Death is, after all, one of the characteristic features of human existence, and the people of any society must find the means to deal with this recurring crisis. Presumably one way to deal with it is to talk and read about it.