Skip to main content

CR3 #96: Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist by Dr. William Maples

This book is partly case studies and partly a memoir of Dr. Maples's journey to becoming one of the world's preeminent forensic anthropologists. Maples gives history of both himself and of the field of forensic anthropology, explaining how and why it developed. He also explains how and why he became interested in it. He goes on to detail some of the cases he's worked on, including some famous ones like investigating whether President Zachary Taylor was actually poisoned, whether the bones in a chapel in South America really belonged to Francisco Pizarro, and whether the bones found in a mass grave in Russia did in fact belong to the assassinated Romanov family. He also discusses more mundane cases, using them to illustrate various aspects of the forensic anthropology field; burned bones, chopped bones, buried bones, and hidden bones--all have their own stories to tell if they're read properly.

This book reflects Dr. Maples's scholarly nature (his "day job" is being a professor at a college as well as running his very impressive investigative lab) and is quite detailed (sometimes overly so.) He presents his cases in methodical fashion, illustrating his lessons as clearly and as simply as possible. He treats his reader like an interested student--gently leading without patronizing, though sometimes getting a little too wrapped up in his thoughts to be as clear as one would prefer. However, the book was extremely informative and full of information I hadn't come across before.

I'd certainly recommend this to anyone who likes true crime or enjoys the show "Bones". Dr. Maples has a strong, distinctive voice, and his style is for the most part quite relateable.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CBR11 #2 - YES. THIS. -- Nothing is Okay by Rachel Wiley

I have a confession to make: I am a monster. No, not the kind who stampedes through Tokyo (though #goals) or the kind that lurks outside your window at night. I am dog-earer. I know, a shiver ran up the spine of book lovers everywhere--I could feel you all cringing. I know, it's a bad habit. But when I read (poetry especially) I like to be able to mark the page where I found something really striking, so I can double back and find it later. When it comes to my books, a turned down corner means "HERE! THERE'S SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE!"

I'm telling you this dirty secret of mine so that you'll understand what it means when I say that by the time I got through Nothing Is Okay, nearly every other page had a bent corner. Some were bent over twice because there was something valuable to me on both sides of a single page.

I discovered Rachel Wiley after someone posted a video of her performing her poem "Ten Honest Thoughts On Being Loved By A Skinny Boy," a…

CBR9 #6: Crystal Flowers: Poems and a Libretto by Florine Stettheimer

I love traveling alone, and one of the things I like to do on my trips is go to museums. I just dig learning things I didn't know, I guess. The problem--when it comes to cities I've visited before--is that I have often already seen the better-known museums. And when it comes to New York City, I've worked my way through MOMA, the Met, the Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim, and several of the other most well-known institutions. So this last time I visited, I decided to branch out and visit a couple I'd never heard of before.

One of the three museums I visited on my last trip was The Jewish Museum of New York City. Now before you ask, I'm not Jewish. But like I said, I enjoy learning things, and this museum just happened to be near the location of a theater where I was going to be seeing a show in the afternoon.

It was a Friday afternoon in August, and when I arrived, I was informed that due to renovations, only one exhibit would be open. I was disappointed, b…

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…