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on January 3, 2017
Dr. Bass combines the humdrum of scientific analysis with a very interesting catalogue of stories which provide background for his revolutionary work. Sort of like, recognizing a problem and creating a scientifically based solution. Notice that he writes nicely about all his contacts, and that shows his pleasant personality, law enforcement officers and college administrators can each be a pain.
I have heard him lecture two or three times and he is just as interesting in person. A great book.
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on September 26, 2016
This is a fascinating book! I am a huge fan of author Patricia Cromwell . I loved her novel The Body Farm and have read every book she has written. Very interesting to read about Mr Bass's research and how the actual body farm originated. Highly recommend for all you forensic science lovers!
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on January 11, 2017
The title of this book is a little bit deceiving. Instead of putting too much weight in the Body Farm and its conception, operation and deeds, it should be called Dr Bill Bass' Memoirs.
Interesting reading about that important scientist and researcher, but a far shot from the Body Farm and its mysteries and fascinating history.
Worth reading, but don't expect too much.
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on December 16, 2009
I enjoyed this book and believe that five stars hit the mark. I should say that while reading Death's Acre I sensed a bit of guilt because I rarely buy books for their reading pleasure. Books must have value for my crime scene cleanup business and my educational development. So popular literature remains low on my reading list, but I enjoyed this book's stories more than fiction.

I clean after homicide, suicide, and unattended deaths. Often I wonder about human decomposition following violent deaths because of ugly death scenes I clean. Naturally Death's Acre came to my attention while researching decomposition and forensics.

My interests in anthropology and police science began when I took anthropology and a police science courses in the 70's. Now I am pleased to return to these subjects in such an enjoyable book. It is a book full of facts and insights to forensics, life, and death.

I read Death's Acre on my Kindle. For me this book unveiled the Kindle's potential. All I wanted to do was read the absorbing stories and Kindle's text features helped to enlarge text and mark what stood out. There's a lot to mark because Death's Acre shares personal tragedy and scientific method. Thumbs up.
Eddie Evans
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on December 8, 2009
I initially became interested in this book after reading The American Way of Death Revisited and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. In addition, I watched a television documentary on the Body Farm so naturally I had to have this book.

I was pleasantly surprised at the quick-paced writing along with the witty style. While some may not view decomposing human bodies as witty (it's not) the balance of humor and seriousness is fine-tuned and works extremely well. It is quite clear through-out the book that Dr. Bill Bass has great respect for the dead coupled with a love of life. Together with journalist Jon Jefferson, Dr. Bass has written a fascinating and informative book that never becomes morbid or trivial.

The book is not solely focused on the Body Farm, that is, Death's Acre but a wide array of different yet related subjects. Weaved together, it makes an authoritive and compelling journey into a world that most of us will never see except from behind closed lids.

I hope you find my opinion helpful.

Michael L. Gooch
Author of Wingtips with Spurs
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on August 3, 2016
great book, primarily biographical by a trail breaker in the field of forensic anthropology. lots of detail about interesting cases as well as detail about the process of human decomposition under a variety of circumstances. i enjoyed this on many levels. entertaining and educational. hard to beat that!
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on May 25, 2013
This book is the story of Dr. Bill Bass and his Anthropology Research Center at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (better known by its nickname, The Body Farm) and is a must read for those who are fascinated by the scientific research and techniques used by modern forensic investigators to determine time and cause of death. One warning, however. This is not for the weak stomached- Dr. Bass tells the entire story and it is, not surprisingly, quite gruesome. It even made me a little queasy and I am a physician who spent a number of years in a couple of the most gruesome hospitals in the country, so I am not easily grossed out, but there were a few times I had to put the book down for a while, but I could not resist picking it up again once my gorge had sunk back to normal levels.
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VINE VOICEon June 17, 2004
This is an utterly fascinating book describing a series of case studies taken from the career of the first author, Bill Bass, who is one of the nation's leading forensic anthropologists and the founder of the Body Farm. I had first encountered the Body Farm from reading about it in the book by Mary Roach, "Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers" (a wickedly funny and interesting book in its own right). I have also had a life-long interest in true crime books, so when I found out about "Death's Acre" I ordered it promptly.
And I was not disappointed. A previous reviewer expressed some dissatisfaction that the book did not deal solely with the work done at the Body Farm. While it is true that the title of the book is perhaps misleading in this regard, I personally am glad that the book focused as much as it did on the variety of cases that Dr. Bass consulted on throughout his career. I find it more interesting to hear about how forensic anthropology can help bring a murderer to justice than to read clinical data regarding just how many maggots can hatch in a body after 30 minutes in what temperature.
This is probably a good time to offer a gentle warning: This is a great book and totally fascinating, but if that last sentence about maggots upset you, you should probably forego buying and reading this book because that is only a mild taste of what you will encounter inside its pages. What happens to a human body after death isn't pretty, and the authors do a great job of describing it clinically and in terms that a lay audience will understand. But you need a pretty strong stomach to deal with it, especially when what is being described is, say, the brutally murdered body of a four-year-old girl. The book also contains a section of photographs, some of which involve decaying bodies (naturally enough given that this is the subject matter of the book), but if you do not particularly want to see pictures of decaying bodies, find another book to read.
But I would not want prospective readers to think that this book is gory just for the sake of sensationalism. The authors draw a compelling portrait of the role of forensic science in solving crimes and convicting the perpetrators of the crimes. The tone of the book is always scientific and the attitude toward the victims and research subjects at the Body Farm highly respectful.
The writing is also terrific. I think Dr. Blass made an excellent decision when he enlisted Jon Jefferson as co-author, as the writing is more literary and enjoyable than you expect from most mainstream academicians. The only suggestion for improvement I would make is that I wish the authors had included a few more pictures or diagrams of some of the more important diagnostic cues that are relied on in determining gender, age, and race. For example, we are repeatedly told of structural differences in the pelvis and skull that help to determine sex; it would have been helpful to see diagrams illustrating those differences.
Bottom line: Terrific book, one that left me half-wishing I had become a forensic anthropologist instead of a psychologist.
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on May 24, 2017
I don't normally review books because I read so many. This was a fascinating read. Gruesome yes, but reality isn't always pretty. It was really interesting how the science was developed and turned into such an extraordinary teaching and research tool benefiting so many! Glad I read it.
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on February 26, 2005
"Death's Acre..." by Dr. Bill Bass & Jon Jefferson, NY, G.P.Putnam's Sons, 2003 - ISBN 0-39915134-6 (hc), 6 in. x 9 in., 280 pg. plus Appendices, bone charts, glossary, index & foreword by Patricia Cornwell.

"DA..." is an easy to read expose (largely non-technical) of the Anthropological Research Facility or "Body Farm", a unique research facility first conceived & established in 1980 by Dr. Bill Bass, forensic anthropologist at the Univ. Tennessee. Basically, this is a secluded retreat where human corpses are placed on surfaces, buried, or submerged in water -- Then, photos & diverse inquires made of rate of decomposition, saponification, mass, temperature, destruction by maggots, hornets, beetles, etc., & remains (teeth, bones, chemicals) for purpose of using data to determine sex, race, age, size and time since death (time of death) for forensic purposes.

The book's voice Dr. Bass, written by Jefferson, is in a cozy, mindful & quick-witted style affording appropriate insight into death, dying & the dead. All told, an autobiography (irregular time-line) of Dr. Bass, revealing lives & deaths of his parents, 3 marriages, his heart problem, success & notoriety of the Body Farm, & his achievements & personal recognition by peers. His self-satisfaction attitude is deserved, his drollery is homespun. To read this book is to then know Dr. Bass. He's one of the good guys...
23 people found this helpful
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