Until I read The Mummy Congress by Heather Pringle (Penguin Viking), I thought mummies were just dead people with good PR. But this book traces the role mummies have played in anthropological, historical and medical research, as well as helping to realize great profits for a select few (by being the main entertainment at private parties, for instance). Not all mummies were people from royal families. Some of them didn’t even plan to be mummified, such as those who were thrown into a bog and preserved by the chemical makeup of the soil and water. In whatever way mummies are used, all through history people have been fascinated by mummies and by methods of preserving bodies. The last chapter in the book uncovers some modern-day mummification antics such as dieting, cosmetic surgery and cryonics. It seems that many of us want somehow to be everlasting, in life and in death.