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Death's Acre: Inside the legendary 'Body Farm' Paperback – 14 Oct 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New Ed edition (14 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751534463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751534467
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 311,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Bass's moving account is a surprisingly accessible read. (THE TIMES)

It embraces some of the great issues: the perpetual conflict of good versus evil, and the human virtues of enthusiasm, commitment and intellectual inquiry. It just happens, also, to be extremely well written. (James Le Fanu, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Blackly funny and unsparing in its clinical detail, this is a fascinating documentary of forensic research as well as an eye-opening adjunct to the novels of murder and mayhem to which we are addicted. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

Sensitively written. (INK)

Book Description

* In 1981 DR. William Bass founded the Anthropology Research facility at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the world's only laboratory devoted to the study of human corpses. This is his personal account of the real 'Body Fam', the only one of its kind in the world.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
In all honesty, this book labours under a pretty distinct false pretence. Well, an implied one. From the blurb and the cover, you may infer this to be a book about the Anthropology Research Facility (or, to give it its more colourful soubriquet, the body farm) but it isn’t really. The implied impression is misleading. Instead, it is really a biography of Dr Bill Bass who is, as the author info puts it, a “colossus of forensic anthropology”. Among other topics, it charts his career in forensics, from when he first began excavating Arikara graves in South Dakota, to the present day. He presents us with some of his most striking cases, with several chapters almost turning into short forensic detective stories.
As background along the way, we are also treated to a brief history of forensic anthropology. We see the development of the science, and how crucial techniques investigators now use in their work first came into being. The “body farm”, of course, does feature, sometimes very heavily, but it is not really the focus of the book. Still, readers who pick this up solely for a book about the farm shouldn’t be disappointed; we still discover plenty about it and its history, still get an insight into its workings, the methods of those who work there to investigate the processes at work on the body after death, and still get plenty of anecdotes about how the work at the body farm has helped in many forensic cases. There’s a wealth of information, but there is a lot more about other general matters.
“Death’s Acre” is possibly the perfect book for anyone who is marginally interested in forensics. It doesn’t glorify it by any means (anyway, is it possible to truly glorify decaying flesh?
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Bass and his co-author Jon Jefferson have handled a fascinating subject in a way that promotes interest without arousing disgust in a subject that is, all to often, automatically regarded as 'revolting' and 'only fit for wierdos'. Death and decay are equally important to life and its continuance as are the far 'nicer' and therefore 'acceptable' aspects of conception and birth, but in modern times is shunned by society to a ridiculous extent; to a point where something formerly an everday and familiar part of life has become so unfamiliar that it is feared out of all proportion - and as do all things forbidden, become a focus of attraction for the curious and the profiteer.
The fact remains that the study of death in all its aspects is
valuable not only for the secrets of the human story it holds, but one of immense moral significance because it reveals indisputable truths about certain events - and it is truth alone that can alone attain that highest human ideal of justice.
Dr. Bass has done us a great service in enabling the ordinary person a close view of the value of the study of the death process and how he has achieved this remarkable advance in forensic science. I look forward with anticipation to finding and studying his academic articles and works.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first heard about the body farm when reading the Patricia Cornwell book and have been fascinated ever since. This book is easy to read, full of accessible information and balances that with not being ghoulish. It sets the scene for how little we knew about some elements of death and decomposition and how advancing knowledge can help with solving crime and giving families closure.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very disappointed with quality,, said good but actually was rather poor, was bought as Xmas present because my dad desperately wanted it, he wasn't overly happy (big into his books) he just accepted it as he really wanted to read it, I did ask if he wanted me to send it back
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Format: Paperback
This is the most interesting book I have read in a long time.

Although, as the reviewer below mentions, it is more of a autobiography of Bill Bass than a book solely about the Tennessee Anthropology Research Facility, I think it would have been a rather less-exciting book if it had only focused on the Body Farm itself.
This book contains accounts of actual forensic cases which help to explain how the Body Farm came into being and, rather than being purely factual, the author weaves all of these short accounts into a brilliant true story.

It is extremely well-written and there is a lot of information about human physiology, anthropology and forensics, which, because of the clear and friendly way it is explained, is very easy to understand (there are even anatomical drawings of the human body and skull at the back of the book).

Reads like a novel; you might even find that you learn something along the way.

Very enjoyable read.
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Format: Hardcover
In this book, Bill Bass, Head of Forensic Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, gives a very human and warm account of the career thus far in what is considered to be a 'dehumanised' subject area.
Still sprightly in his 80s today, he outlines how he came to the nascent science of forensics many moons ago, citing many anecdotes (both humourous and scientific) to exemplify the pioneering work that he has been involved in. This continual exploration over the years has broadened the limits and knowledge of the subject. Peppered throughout with anecdotes about landmark murder cases and discoveries, he describes how he came to set up the "Body Farm" research project as immortalised by crime novelist Partricia Cornwell.
Read this if you want a sober, non-sensaltionalist introduction to forensic anthropology.
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