William M. Bass,
Death's Acre:
Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales

(G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2003)

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 -- a facility where human decomposition can be studied -- so naturally I had to have this book.

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

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

book review by
Michael L. Gooch

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