- Publisher: Ballantine Books (1990)
- ASIN: B00879XUSA
- Package Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 79 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,760,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner [Mass Market Paperback] Paperback – 1990
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And he tells his story as an insider, as indeed he is, being one of the most renowned MEs in the world. When he says, for example, "Where bungled autopsies are concerned, President Kennedy's is the exemplar," we listen. He goes on to give a rather definitive answer to questions that we have all wondered about, as told from the prospective of the evidence: Oswald acted alone, Claus von Bulow didn't do it, Cathy Smith did give Belushi his fatal injection, and so forth. His stories of less well-known folks are no less compelling, and Baden does a good job of leading the reader through the gory and technical details to a scientific conclusion. Ideally, however, one should read the companion volume of his friend, Dr. William Maples, in tandem with this one. He is a forensic anthropologist who does with skeletons what Baden does with "fresher" evidence. All in all, a good read . . .
The reason I'm knocking off a star is because of the lack of organization in the book. Each chapter has a different focus, but there is no organization that I noticed beyond that. However, that doesn't mean it's hard to follow. Each chapter, as stated, focuses on a subject and he eloquently, interestingly, weaves his experiences into memorable stories whilst sprinkling in a fact or two, maybe a comparable experience, and sometimes famous cases (and he's personally worked on quite a few).
Dr. Baden is a very esteemed professional, a very high-caliber player in the criminal justice world. If you want to know more about criminal justice, the corrupt intricacies within criminal justice, death investigation, and especially thanatology, you should get this book (and all his other books!).
It is a well-written and indexed (7 pages) mind-probing study of many high-profile cases of unnatural deaths (suicides, homicides, & accidents) & some unsual but natural ones. Dr. Baden discusses some of the little known but extremely significant political intrigues he encountered, revealing facts known only to certain medical examiners, DA's, politicians in high office and prominent family members.
The introduction describes the pseudo-victimization "abduction" of T. Brawley (1987) and 12 chapters follow with Chap. 1 detailing Dr. Baden's selection to head forensic pathology for the 1977 Congressional Select Committee on Assassination (JFK); Chap. 2 his studies at Bellevue; Chap. 3 some notes on Elvis Presely, the Nurses Perez & Narcisco Pavulon deaths prosecution blocked by Imelda Marcos, and the ricin death of Markov (1978); Chap. 4 with concise notes on history of coroner system and Chap. 5 details Baden's confrontations with NYC Mayor Koch, Manhattan DA Robert Morganthau, and Health Commissioner Ferrer over handling of the David Levine, Willie Welch, Robert Soman, and Nelson Rockefeller cases, to mention a few.
Chapters that follow are lucrative and revealing of forensic science at its best and politics at its worst. The accusations against Claus von Bulow of twice trying to murder his wife "Sunny" by insulin injections revealed a frightening tribunal jungle of medical & legal specialists whose main concern was (evidently) to thwart possible perceived malpractice charges. For unrevealed & appalling details of the 'preppy murder' of Jennifer Levin by Robert Chambers (discussed on the Larry King show Aug. 26, 2002) look in this book. This is a no holds barred book, a must read for those who "thought they knew what happened" really didn't happen and vice versa.