- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (September 15, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385479689
- ISBN-13: 978-0385479684
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 231 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Noted forensic anthropologist Maples, whose specialty is the study of bones, and freelance journalist Browning here recount Maples's criminal and anthropological investigations over the past 20 years. The meandering text combines episodes from Maples's personal life and education with discourses on his philosophy, his teaching at the Univ. of Florida and his work. The book's strength is as a snapshot of the world of forensic scientists, vividly portraying the siege mentality of many of them when their objective data are used for purposes other than ascertaining the truth about how a victim died. Despite the two-dimensional depiction of the people who were the objects of Maples's investigations-including the "likely" remains of Romanov Tsar Nicholas II-his memoirs should hold readers' interest.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Maples' first exposure to his career came as a freshman in college when a class he wanted was full and his adviser then suggested he take the survey course on anthropology. Maples was fortunate, as will be any reader with a strong stomach who picks up his book. He tells how he learned to look at mangled bodies and continues to explain how he learned to both see and observe and how he discovered such fruitful techniques as tasting bone samples. Although it tends to be lifeless, forensic anthropology is not a cut-and-dried subject; nevertheless, Maples narrates his cases clearly and engagingly. He describes the remains (or, when burnt, cremains) presented to him, describes what he looks for, and guides us through his thinking and the search for additional clues and information. His most difficult, fascinating, and perplexing case dealt with a 1985 apparent double murder and burning, while among historic bodies, Maples dealt with those of Francisco Pizarro, Zachary Taylor, Czar Nicholas II, and Joseph Merrick, "the Elephant Man." William Beatty --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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He (along with his co-author, Michael Browning) tells a vivid story and is not afraid to editorialize:
"At the center of the labyrinth of certain human personalities there lurks a Minotaur that feeds on human flesh, and we have not yet found the thread to help us map this maze and slay the beast."
I've read many classics by forensic pathologists such as Sir Sidney Smith ("Mostly Murder"), Dr. Keith Simpson ("Forty Years of Murder"), and Dr. Michael Baden ("Dead Reckoning: the New Science of Catching Killers") and have read crime fiction by forensic anthropologists such as Bill Bass ("Carved In Bone" published under the pseudonym 'Jefferson Bass'). "Dead Men Do Tell Tales" is my first autobiography by a forensic anthropologist, and it deserves to be placed on the shelf with my all-time favorite true crime books. There are case studies of heinous crimes--the drifter, Danny Harold Rolling, who murdered five University of Florida students--but also cases involving historical figures such as President Zachery "Old Rough and Ready" Taylor who died of an unspecified gastrointestinal disorder after only sixteen months in office.
Was he our first assassinated president?
In one of his most famous cases, Dr. Maples was invited to Russia to examine the bones of what might have been the last Czar of Russia, his family, and servants. All were gunned down by a Bolshevik death squad in July, 1918.
Along with other forensic scientists, he has also been involved in identifying the bones of our soldiers who never returned from war.
One of the most affecting skeletons that he was asked to examine was that of the "Elephant Man," Joseph Merrick.
This book is truly a feast (a somewhat grisly feast) for those of us who value the application of science to otherwise unsolvable mysteries. If you are reading "Dead Men Do Tell Tales" while at the dinner table, you might want to save the photographs until after you have finished digesting.
In 1997, Dr. Maples died of brain cancer at the relatively young age of 59.
Bottom line: As I expected, the book was more informative than exciting. There was somewhat less crime sleuthing than I expected, though. Still, if you are considering a career as a forensic anthropologist, definitely read this book.
Even so, it provided a great deal of information that I was able to take away as some I had no clue before, so if a book can do that for me & also be a compelling read, it's a win-win to me!