The Brief History of the Dead

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However, while the City which Lewis describes is a sort of purgatory where souls not ready to accept heaven await the return of Jesus Christ, The City in this novel is a form of limbo dependent on the memories of the living. Many ancient cultures believe that birds are harbingers of death or foreshadow the coming of a deity. Birds are used symbolically in the novel and feature prominently in the symbolic nether world of The City. Also, the main living protagonist of the novel is named Laura Byrd, the reference to birds and their portents made more explicit by the naming of the birds in The City "Laura Birds.

A reference is made to the Wandering Jew , a legend from medieval Christian folklore. As the legend has it, after mocking Jesus Christ during the crucifixion this man was condemned by Christ to roam the earth until the Second Coming.

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One character, who believes this legend, speculates about what the emptying of The City could mean in light of this story. This novel takes place during the mid-to-late 21st century, where current concerns such as global warming and terrorism have become acute crises. The polar ice caps are melting at a dangerous and irreversible rate and the people of the United States live in constant fear of biological terrorism attacks.

The ultimate source of the global virus in the novel is unknown; however, it is implied that the source of the virus was involved in one way or another in the inflamed war on terrorism. Though it is left ambiguous, it is possible that the ultimate source of the virus may have even been the United States government: this hypothesis is supported by an early epicenter of the virus being in the Middle East, which when considered with the virus' distribution method is suspicious; this is further supported by the inordinate knowledge of the virus had by officials from the US government.

Though the novel does not explicitly say so, it is implied that globalism has caused many problems.

The Brief History of the Dead | Teenreads

Large multinational corporations have become increasingly socially irresponsible. The Coca-Cola corporation is used as a stand-in for these corporations and it is their irresponsible decisions and the resulting consequences, both intended and unintended, which drive the plot of the novel.

ISBN: 0375423699

A corporate executive is shown propagating a cover up even after he has died and in The City. Equally, the novel describes most large mammalian species elephants, whales, gorillas, etc.


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The last large mammalian species left is man, who is also now under threat of extinction as well. Population growth, irresponsible hunting and global climate change have affected the Antarctic ecosystem in the novel: for example, penguins have been thriving after the extinction of whales and are beginning to grow to be hundreds of pounds with the potential of evolving further to fill the niche left by the extinct whales. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Roberto Hernandez reviews The Brief History of the Dead

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A Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier

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