Book Review: Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales by William M. Bass, Jon Jefferson

“Most people think of the cranium as a single dome of bone, and if you run your hands over the top of your head, it certainly feels like one piece. In reality, though, the cranial vault is a complex assembly of seven separate bones: the frontal bone, or forehead; a pair of parietal bones, which forms the skull’s upper sides and read; the temporal bones, low on either side; the sphenoid, which forms the floor  and part of the sides, and the occipital bone, the skull’s heavy back and vase, which rests atop the first cervical vertebra and channels the spinal cord into the neck.”

This book is a mixture of facts about the human body, decay, and death, accompanied by crime stories mixed into the history of Dr. Bill Bass and how the Body Farm came to be. So you could say this is a personal narrative with scientific facts about forensic work, and this is what makes the book excellent. I’m not that big of a crime buff, and I could have lived without some of the murder details. Still, I understand you cannot take them out of this story as each crime mentioned in the book has brought something new to Dr. Bass’ understanding and repertoire as each murder is a challenge in their own way.  And each of those stories was told in the book from a scientific perspective and not to gorge with someone’s misery.

It was interesting to hear how the Body Farm came to be, and it baffled me how little we knew about decay before it; and how much during Dr. Bass’ working history, he has advanced forensic science. The thing about him and the book is that you can see his passion for forensic anthropology and crime-solving, but this is the passion of a man who understands the value of spreading knowledge and aiding others to acquire it and this way giving due where it is deserved. The book is full of his students’ achievements and how much they have helped the field and him to broaden the understanding of death. It is this kind of scientific mind equipped with curiosity, compassion, and generosity that makes the world a better place for all of us. And made the book an enjoyable read.

Thank you for reading and have a lovely larva free day!

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