Dr. Bill Bass, a legend in forensic circles, has assisted with
hundreds of cases for the FBI and numerous other law-enforcement
agencies. He created the world's first laboratory devoted to human
decomposition: the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research
Facility. He has written or coauthored more than two hundred
scientific publications, many based on murder cases and other
mysteries he has helped to prosecute or solve. A gifted teacher, he
has been named "National Professor of the Year" by the Council for
Advancement and Support of Education.
Jon Jefferson is a veteran journalist, science writer, and documentary filmmaker. His writing has been featured by The New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, and Popular Science.
Adult/High School-Not for the "faint of stomach," this is the story of one man's quest to identify murder victims. Bass, who created the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility, which is devoted to research on human decomposition, mixes scientific and personal anecdotes in such a way that readers are hooked from the first page. Readability, however, never loses out to accuracy, and the mix is quite an accomplishment. The author explains the process of decomposition and how bones give clues to identity: approximate age, sex, height, and race, all of which are needed to bring the forensic scientist one step closer to putting a name to a corpse. He describes some of the cases he has been involved with and laughs at himself when he shares stories of mistakes and assumptions. Young adults will gain insight into the forensic process and appreciate Bass's dedication to the truth and his work.-Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In this memoir, Bass, a premier forensic anthropologist, recounts how a life spent studying dead bodies led to the creation of "The Anthropolgy Research Facility" (aka the Body Farm), a plot of land near the University of Tennessee Medical Center where Bass and his colleagues monitor the decomposition of human corpses in various environments. The book is structured around the 1981 creation of the Body Farm, and the early chapters focus on some of Bass's trickier cases to demonstrate his need for more information about the science of forensics. The later chapters take a closer look at how the scientific analysis of Body Farm corpses has helped Bass and other anthropologists solve some of the toughest and most bizarre cases of their distinguished careers. Though professional and conscientious when describing the medical facts of each case, Bass, writing with journalist Jefferson, proves to be a witty storyteller with a welcome sense of humor. He also does a nice job balancing accounts of death and decomposition with decidedly not-so-morbid tidbits from his personal life. Furthermore, the poignancy of how he reacts to the deaths of his first two wives reflects the compassion he feels for the dead and their surviving family members he encounters in his working life. Bass may deal with the dead, but he has a lust for life that comes across in his writing. While the grisly details may not make this a must-read for everyone, those who do pick it up might just be pleasantly surprised by how Bass brings death to life. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.