In Praise of Good Obituaries

If not for his obituary in the New York Times, I might never have heard of Lionel Casson, a historian focused on ancient maritime history. I’ve now placed one of his books on hold at the library, and hope to read it shortly.

The obituary was pretty near perfect: a description of Dr. Casson’s accomplishments, and what made them unique and interesting, including an evocative distillation of his central subject. The obituary ends with a brief but witty anecdote.

In short, this obituary celebrate the man and his work, and generates additional interest in what might be an obscure subject of whom most people, myself included, have never heard.