Book Review: Death’s Acre by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

Bill Bass' Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales | review by @SheilaRCraigDeath’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell TalesBill Bass' Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales | review by @SheilaRCraig by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

If you are at all interested in forensic anthropology, and have a strong stomach, do yourself a favor and look for this engaging memoir. It’s not only a look at the life of one of the preeminent experts in the field, but it gives a good background into how the field developed into its own niche.

I said you needed a strong stomach, and I’m serious. There is a lot of discussion of decomposition in all its gruesomeness. There’s talk about excavating burial sites – both contemporary and historic. There are corpses and crimes described. There are bugs. Lots and lots of bugs.

Despite what could have been a highly technical book, with lots of details about how they determine decomposition rates and time of death and all that, it’s really not that sort of book. It reads as if you’re hearing the stories of someone who has been doing it all forever, and learned how to keep an audience spellbound.

If you’ve read Stiff, she devotes a chapter of her book to the Body Farm. This book gives you the background to how it all began. Highly recommended, if the description didn’t put you off from it. If you’re at all squeamish, stay far far away.

Oh, and despite what the publisher’s description below claims, don’t read the book thinking you’ll learn a lot about the Lindbergh kidnapping. He does revisit the case, but it’s a very minor part in the book. If you pick it up for that in particular, you’ll likely be disappointed at the small portion of the book devoted to it.

Publisher’s Description:
Dr. Bill Bass, one of the world’s leading forensic anthropologists, gained international attention when he built a forensic lab like no other: The Body Farm. Now, this master scientist unlocks the gates of his lab to reveal his most intriguing cases-and to revisit the Lindbergh kidnapping and murder, fifty years after the fact.

Book Details

Title: Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell TalesBill Bass' Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales | review by @SheilaRCraig
Author: Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 4 Stars

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Comments

  1. I loved Stiff: The Curious Lives of Cadavers. I will have to check this book out!

  2. Sounds intriguing! Believe it or not the gruesomeness wouldn’t bother me a bit. πŸ™‚

    • I think you’d like it then – that’s my only hesitation with recommending this book, that I know for some people it’d be way too much.

  3. Sounds intriguing. I liked Stiff but I remember being a little grossed out by the body farm part of the book.

  4. Oddly enough, I just checked out Stiff from the library last week (it’s still in my TBR pile right now) when I realized it was one of those books that you always hear about, but that somehow I had never read. I do enjoy books that make medical and scientific topics accessible to “regular” folks. And I do remember reading an article long ago about the Body Farm. I will definitely take a look at this title–I don’t mind reading about “squeamish” topics–as long as I’m not reading about them while I’m eating!

  5. I kind of geek out over forensic anthropology (in fact, we often watch Bones while eating supper, and it totally doesn’t bother me) and this sounds simply fascinating. So yeah, another one for the list. Thanks, I think. πŸ˜‰

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  1. […] Death’s Acre by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. Not for the squeamish, but fascinating look at forensic anthropology and related fields. […]

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