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No Bone Unturned: The Adventures of a Top Smithsonian Forensic Scientist and the Legal Battle for America's Oldest Skeletons Hardcover – March 25, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (March 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060199237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060199234
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dr. Douglas Owsley, curator for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and forensic scientist "reads bones like most people read books." He also gains as much knowledge from them. In No Bone Unturned: The Adventures of the Smithsonian's Top Forensic Scientist and the Legal Battle for America's Oldest Skeletons, Jeff Benedict presents a double story: a sensitive portrait of this extraordinary scientist and a thorough reporting of the landmark 1996 lawsuit, Robson Bonnichsen et al v. U.S. et al. Benedict admits that his initial plan was to focus on the lawsuit, in which a group of scientists sued the federal government for the right to study the remains of 9,600 year-old Kennewick Man--the oldest complete human skeleton to be found in America and claimed by the Umatilla Native American tribe for reburial, but shifted his focus after hearing about Owsley. The result is a fascinating account of how one man's commitment to science and knowledge could help rewrite North American human history.

Owsley is among the country's leading authorities in skeletal research and physical/forensic anthropology. In addition to curating the Smithsonian's vast Native American skeletal collection, he has assisted various government agencies to identify remains in historic cases ranging from the war in Bosnia and Waco to September 11. By reviewing Owsley's input in these cases, Benedict shows how his involvement in (and impact on) the Kennewick man case is a logical outgrowth of his professional standing and brilliance. Part detective story, part thriller, the lawsuit at the heart No Bone Unturned provides captivating reading. Benedict tells this high-stakes story, replete with legal twists and high-powered political maneuvering, clearly and dynamically. One might think that a story about a scientist and a lawsuit could be, well, as dry as the bones Owsley studies. Far from it--No Bone Unturned makes the case for donning a lab coat and fighting the good fight. --Silvana Tropea

From Publishers Weekly

As the title implies, this is two books in one. The first chronicles the fascinating scientific sleuthing of Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Doug Owsley, one of the world's leading experts in the interpretation of human skeletons and bone fragments. Investigative journalist Benedict (Without Reservation, etc.) follows Owsley as he flies into a dangerous paramilitary-controlled area in Guatemala to recover bone fragments that will enable him to identify the remains of a murdered journalist; into the charnel house that had been the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, where he identifies infants and children blown apart when the compound was destroyed; and into the archives at the Jamestown Colony, where Owsley correctly identifies a skeleton as belonging to an African-American, thus establishing that whites and blacks had lived together in America from the very earliest English settlement. The second half of the book chronicles Owsley and other scientists' legal battle to stop the government from turning over the controversial 9,000-year-old remains of the skeleton known as Kennewick Man, found in Washington State, to Native American groups, thus denying anthropologists an opportunity to study them. The book is a fast and exciting read up to the legal battle, where Benedict's recreation of the courtroom confrontations and behind-the-scenes maneuvering slows the pace considerably. This survey of Owsley's career will appeal to both science and legal buffs looking for a good weekend read. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Jeff Benedict published his first book - Public Heroes, Private Felons: Athletes and Crimes Against Women - during his first year of law school in 1997. At the time he was interning in the District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit in Boston and planning on becoming a prosecutor. By the time he earned his law degree in 2000, he had published three more books: Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL (Warner Books, 1998); Athletes and Acquaintance Rape (Sage Publications, 1998); and Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World's Largest Casino (HarperCollins, 2000). By then he'd decided to be a writer instead of a lawyer.

His books on athletes and crime established him as the national expert on the subject. Plus, he was the lead researcher on two groundbreaking studies conducted at Northeastern University - one on student-athletes and violence against women and one on arrest and conviction rates for athletes. In addition to being a regular analyst on network and cable news programs, Benedict served as an expert witness on behalf of rape and domestic violence victims; consulted for law firms representing victims of violence committed by athletes; and frequently appeared as a keynote speaker for women's groups, victim advocacy organizations and law enforcement conferences.

But his revelatory book on the world's largest Indian casino took him in another direction. Without Reservation questioned the legitimacy of the country's most powerful Indian tribe, prompting calls for a Congressional investigation and contributing to the defeat of a 20-year member of Congress that had helped the tribe obtain federal recognition. Benedict's book became the subject of a 60 Minutes segment and the author went on to run for Congress in the district where the tribe and its casino - Foxwoods - are located. His platform was built on reigning in the casino industry. Talk about controversy! Despite earning the support of the Wall Street Journal, Benedict fell short of capturing the Democratic nomination.

But he didn't mind. He just forged ahead and formed the nation's first statewide non-profit corporation dedicated to stopping casino expansion. As president of The Connecticut Alliance Against Casino Expansion, he partnered with Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and led the lobbying effort to pass landmark legislation outlawing new casinos in Connecticut. In 2004 Benedict testified against Donald Trump and other casino moguls before the House Committee on Government Reform as part a congressional investigation into the undue influence of money and lobbyists on the tribal recognition process.

At the same time, Benedict kept writing. In 2005 he conducted a six-month investigation into the negative social and economic impacts of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods - currently the two largest casinos in the world - and published his findings in a 2-part series in the Hartford Courant: Raw Deal and Losing Hand. He also testified before the Massachusetts legislature and the Philadelphia City Council in opposition to proposals to embrace casino gambling as an economic stimulus. He served as an advisor to municipalities and grassroots organizations throughout the country. The press dubbed him 'Consultant to the Stars' after he was hired to help David Crosby, Bo Derek, Elton John's longtime songwriter Bernie Taupin and others oppose plans to expand the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California. He and Crosby also lobbied the U.S. Senate's Indian Affairs Committee.

Benedict has written five other highly acclaimed books on a wide range of topics. His book No Bone Unturned: The Adventures of a Top Smithsonian Forensic Scientist and the Legal Battle for America's Oldest Skeletons (HarperCollins, 2003) was the basis of a Discovery Channel documentary and was the subject of ABC News 20/20 segment. On the heels of Kobe Bryant's arrest on rape charges in Colorado, Benedict published Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence & Crime (HarperCollins, 2004), which was the basis of a 2-part special on ABC News 20/20 also titled 'Out of Bounds.' During pre-trial proceedings in the Kobe Bryant case, Benedict got access to sealed court documents and medical records that became the basis of three stories he wrote about the case for Sports Illustrated. After Bryant's case was dismissed, Benedict wrote a short series on Bryant for the Los Angeles Times, including an award-winning feature story that revealed why the case against Bryant fell apart.

In 2007 Benedict published The Mormon Way of Doing Business: How Eight Western Boys Reached the Top of Corporate America (Warner Business Books). It was based on interviews with the CEOs at JetBlue, Madison Square Garden, Dell, and Deloitte & Touche, along with the CFO of American Express and the dean of Harvard Business School. Benedict also wrote and co-produced his first television documentary based on the book. It aired on BYU-TV and on the PBS and CBS affiliates in Utah. He filmed commercials with Glenn Beck to promote the short film. After the release of the book and the film, Benedict teamed up with the executive he had profiled for a series of forums at Yale, Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, and Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business.

The following year Benedict was commissioned to write a book on a company that Warren Buffett purchased for $200 million. A few years later it was worth over $1 billion. How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy: The RC Willey Story (Shadow Mountain) was released in 2009. Buffett wrote the book's foreword. Also in 2009, Benedict released Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage (Grand Central Publishing). He spent three years chronicling the eminent domain battle in Kelo v. New London, considered the most controversial Supreme Court decision since Roe v. Wade. The book received universal praise: "a fascinating narrative" (New York Times Book Review); "an absorbing read" (Wall Street Journal); and "a mind-blowing story" (NPR's Diane Rehm). Following the book's release, Benedict spent a year traveling the country with plaintiff Susette Kelo, talking to Americans about property rights.

Today Benedict is a regular contributor for SI.com and a Distinguished Professor of English at Southern Virginia University, where he teaches a seminar called Writing and Mass Media, along with a course on current affairs. He is a frequent public speaker on athletes and crime, Indian gaming, eminent domain, and leadership and ethics in business. His forthcoming book chronicles the making of the world's #1 foodborne illness lawyer Bill Marler, who rose to prominence while representing children poisoned in America's largest E. coli outbreak. Benedict has begun working on a new book that he's been privately commissioned to write about an Islamic fundamentalist who converts to Christianity and is imprisoned as an infidel.
Jeff Benedict was born in 1966 in New London, Connecticut. He has a Bachelor's in History from Eastern Connecticut State University, a Master's in Political Science from Northeastern University, and a J.D. from the New England School of Law. He previously practiced law in Connecticut, where he has spent most of his life. He currently lives in Virginia on a Civil War-era farm with his wife and best friend Lydia Benedict and their four children.

Customer Reviews

The book is very well written, exciting and difficult to put down.
G. Poirier
I'd recommend it to anyone interested in history, archaeology, anthropology, forensic science, modern biography, political science or jurisprudence.
Atheen
Jeff Benedict depiction of the distinguished career of Doug Owsley of the Smithsonian, almost reads like a novel.
Izzy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Atheen on September 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Two major issues in archaeology have come to the fore over the past decade, namely do the dead have rights, and who "owns" history? No Bone Unturned by Jeff Benedict is the second book on the topic of Kennewick Man and the legal and political battle over his remains that I've read these past few months. Ancient Encounters: Kennewick Man and the First Americans by James C. Chatters gives the perspective of the first forensic anthropologist to study the remains and attempt to preserve them. No Bone Unturned, written by a journalist, discusses the involvement of the Smithsonian forensic archaeologist/anthropologist Douglas Owsley in the legal battle itself. While the former work gives the reader a good perspective on the significance of the material remains themselves and certainly illustrates the hazards of working in the field of archaeology today, the latter book puts the entire debate into more striking relief.
The book reads like a novel, carrying the reader through Owsley's childhood fascination with bones and what they can tell us of the being when living to his college years and professional growth at the national museum. The researcher is made very human by the details of his childhood, friendships and family relationships. His ability as a researcher is hardly left in doubt. Tales of his work with the remains of the recently dead, such as those of the Waco disaster, those of two murdered journalists in South America, and those of the victims of the 9/11 disaster, make his personal bravery as well as his focus and perseverance abundantly apparent. Stories of his work with historical remains makes his ability to piece together the story of the past through the scant skeletal material left in burials reads like a mystery book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Izzy on May 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Jeff Benedict depiction of the distinguished career of Doug Owsley of the Smithsonian, almost reads like a novel. This page-turner of a book increases in intensity from descriptions of Dr. Owsley's work in Guatemala and his involvement in identifying victims of Waco, to the legal battle started by Dr. Owsley, needed to force the federal government to allow study of a 9,000 years skeleton that could shed light on the history of the Americas.
Move over CSI, "No Bone Unturned" is more real, more enthralling, and more honest.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gunther on September 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's rare for a work of science journalism to read like a thriller, but that old cliche "I couldn't put it down" definitely applies to this book. Writer Jeff Benedict follows Smithsonian forensic osteologist Doug Owsley through some fascinating and at times bizarre investigations in Guatemala, Waco, Jamestown, and the Pentagon (9/11 aftermath). Most of the book, though, is concerned with Owsley's epic six-year legal battle to prevent the federal government from reburying a scientifically important 9,600 year-old-skeleton known as "Kennewick Man."
Combining John Grishom and Indiana Jones, this book will appeal to anyone interested in forensic science, Native American politics, the paleoanthropology of ancient North America, or who just wants to read a rootin' good story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Murray Boutilier on March 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It was easy to get involved in the story with the author able to pull the reader in to the point of holding the book at arms length as body bags were unzipped. I yelled at the book in outrage as government attorneys tried to steal Kennewick man from the American people. From the dedication to the last entry in the index, Adams to Zulu, Author Benedict emerges as a hero of the people with his telling of a great story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Doran on June 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
For those interested in forensic science and human anthropology Jeff Benedict's new book on Dr. Douglas Owsley's (The Smithsonian) study of the 9,600 year old Kennewick Man is a must read. In No Bone Unturned Mr. Benedict has managed to take this scientific wonder and wrap it in a detective story that makes for a great read. I was rivited by the details of this important study and landmark legal case. As an author of several books Benedict has his pen on the pulse of investigative reportage.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Fishel on January 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have read quite a few books by or about anthropologists, but this is certainly the most moving and exciting! Once started, I couldn't put it down and was moved to tears at times. Mostly, I was envious of the fulfilling and important work Dr. Owsley performs and the energy he puts into it. The author certainly immortalizes Dr. Owsley beyond credible human stature in a few places, but overall seems to depict a very driven and admirable scientist.
If you have any interest in anthropology at all, you should read this book. It is an interesting look into the life of one of the country's top anthropologists and reads like a thriller!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R S Cobblestone VINE VOICE on April 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Smithsonian's Doug Owsley appears to be a world-reknown forensic anthropologist, and has played a significant role in the investigation of early human history in North America as well as in numerous criminal investigations, including identifying the remains of victims in the Branch Davidian compound fire in Waco. In No Bone Unturned: The Adventures of a Top Smithsonian Forensic Scientist and the Legal Battle for America's Oldest Skeletons, author Jeff Benedict summarizes the life of Owsley, and in particular goes into great detail regarding the legal battle over the right of scientists to study the remains of Kennewick Man, the 9,000 year old skeleton subject to years of litigation regarding ownership and identity.

If you are interested in forensic anthropology investigations sensu Kathy Reichs and the hit television series Bones, this book differs in its focus on the legal framework of the lengthy Kennewick Man case, a protracted battle that Benedict tries, but ultimately fails, to bring to life in the book. Secretary of the Interior Babbitt erred in granting custody (under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) of the remains of Kennewick Man to five Native American tribes.

If there was a book written every time the government erred in its rulings, there wouldn't be any forests left to produce the paper needed.

Fundamentally, the adventures of Owsley are watered down in this book. Is this a book about Owsley, or Kennewick Man? The combination seems to reduce both to a shallow overview. Owsley appears to be an amazing forensic anthropologist. But he doesn't seem to be a central figure in the broader debate regarding the investigation of the origins of Kennewick Man, and that makes for a sputtering book.
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