Sunday, 8 February 2015

Dead Men Do Tell Tales - William R Maples

I don't normally go for autobiographies, but Maples' candid and informed style makes this one very readable. It's also something of a casebook on forensic anthropology - as well as the development of Maples' professional life, the reader is told about the beginning and progress of the field.

Many of the chapters are case studies on particularly intriguing historical examinations such as the Romanov massacre, the Spanish conqueror of Peru, and the elephant man, among other more modern cases, and there are photographs of some examples included. Many people might think of this as a bit macabre, but there's no pleasure taken in gory descriptions, more an academic analysis of the remains.

It sounds like a fascinating field of study, and while I don't think I'd have the stomach to actually go into it myself, it's something I hadn't realised played such a vital part in the identification of remains and the bringing to justice of the murderer. This is an informative and fascinating look at forensic anthropology, through the eyes of a talented and intelligent man. Well worth reading if you have any interest in archaology, forensics, etc!

Next up: The Heart of a Hospital by Anne Vinton

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