Skulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead

"A cogent, attractively presented case study of a single festival in its diverse forms. It provides a lucid account of cultural change and a careful plotting of causes and influences." (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, March 2009)

"As Brandes explains in this small, well-written, colorfully illustrated volume, the Day of the Dead has strayed far from its origins as a Mexican version of the pan-Roman Catholic All Saints' and All Souls' days to become a spectacular international and interethnic happening ... Recommended." (CHOICE)

"Penetrating look at … how religious ritual can be shaped and transformed by culture … to serve new purposes in a rapidly changing world." (Missiology)


"Erudite and charming, Brandes' book provides a welcome antidote to previous studies of Day of the Dead 'morbidity,' segueing seamlessly from the Mexican festivities to Mexican-Americans in California. The book is destined to become a classic in Hispanic studies." David D. Gilmore, SUNY, Stony Brook 


"This is a marvelous book. Brandes, a perceptive analyst and delightful writer, mines his years of fieldwork to offer both the telling ethnographic episode and the revealing photograph. Skulls to the Living not only illuminates the fascinating rituals of the Day of the Dead, but offers rich insight into changing and kaleidoscopic Mexican culture as well." David I. Kertzer, Brown University