By Beverley McNamara Publisher: Open University, ISBN:0335 208 991.171 pages.£17.99

Vividly, I remember attending my maternal grandmother's traditional Chinese funeral as a young boy. I was not allowed to go near the coffin during the wake and my eyes were shielded when the coffin was carried. Ten years later, when my own mother died, her children were by her hospital bedside and the Christian funeral was much more open.

Most societies still hold dying and death with much apprehension and taboo - yet we are subject to increasing technological and medical management of the body, illness and dying.

McNamara's succinct study seeks to dispel some of the myths surrounding death and dying in modern societies.

Though she writes from an Australian context, her informed account is underpinned by relevant crosscultural empirical research and personal experience.

This book will appeal to a wide range of readers.

If only every NHS trust could engage a resident clinical/medical anthropologist (incorporating an ethical focus), patient care and dignity would markedly improve.

Andy Lie, multi-faith facilitator, University Hospital Birmingham trust