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No Bone Unturned

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  318 ratings  ·  36 reviews
A curator for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Doug Owsley painstakingly rebuilds skeletons, helping to identify them and determine their cause of death. He has worked on several notorious cases -- from mass graves uncovered in Croatia to the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon -- and has examined historic skeletons tens of thousands of years old. But the discovery ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published December 4th 2007)
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Ginevra Dean
Oct 03, 2008 Ginevra Dean rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has an interest in forensics, law, and/or history.
Recommended to Ginevra by: my phys. anthropology professor
This book is about a topic that is controversial in so many aspects. Kennewick Man.

If you don't know who Kennewick Man is, here's some basic background information that you could probably find just by googling him:
Kennewick Man turned up on the banks of the Columbia River on July 28, 1996. The police gave him to the county coroner, Floyd Johnson, who promptly had James Chatters, a specialist in human remains. James Chatters took one look at the skeleton and noted that it had a distinctly europe
...more
Sandy D.
The subtitle of this book is a bit misleading...it is partially a biography of a Smithsonian archaeologist and human bone specialist, Doug Owsley, with short chapters on some of his work at Waco and in Guatemala, and partially an account of the lawsuit he & several other anthropologists were involved in over the right to study Kennewick Man, a 9600 y.o. skeleton found eroding out of the Columbia River in Washington state.

In 1990, a law called NAGPRA (Native American Grave Protection & Re
...more
Maria
MY God, this was bad.
I bought the book believing that, following the subtitle " ... the legal battle for Americas Oldest Skeletons", it was to tell me something about the Kennewick Man case, without having to read hundreds of scientific articles about it.
In some sense, this was true, but the main story of the book is unfortunately a eulogy for Doug Owsley, forensic at the Smithonsian Institute and one of the participants in the Kennewick trial. After reading the book, I am familiar with Dougs
...more
Gretchen
I LOVED this book. I remember when the Kennewick man was first found and I remember my frustration when I heard how the government was dicking the scientists around with regards to studying him. A 9,800 year old nearly complete skeleton was, in my mind, far to rare and valuable NOT to study! while the author was clearly working with Doug Owsley (the real life Smithsonian forensic anthropologist that it seems Temperance 'Bones' Brennan was based on in both the Kathy Reiches novels and the TV show ...more
MD
There are kind of two stories interwoven here. The book begins with the story of Doug Owsley and the work he has done and was doing during the course of events in the book. I like archeology and I like hearing about other people's jobs. I never imagined that being a museum curator for the Smithsonian could involve all of the travel and research Dr. Owsley does.

The second story is the story of the discovery and subsequent legal battle over Kennewick Man, a 10,000 year old skeleton discovered nea
...more
Sophia
I love this book and want to go work at the Smithsonian.
Ellee
I enjoy both books and shows about forensics. I love that small details mean something specific and using multiple details can winnow out potential scenarios into fewer more probable ones. Disproven theories discarded - but potentially reviewed if new evidence points to them again. :) This particular book is more about the cultural issues around forensic anthropology and the Kennewick Man case in particular rather than the methods. I suspected this would be the case since the book was shelved wi ...more
Petra Willemse
A very interesting look into the legality behind science. When is something scientific? When is it personal? This book looks at the argument. It does not pretend to be unbiased - this is a scientific look, not a cultural one. There is a little too much pre-history at the beginning about other bones that hold me back from a 5 star, however.
g-na
This book is as much a biography of its main subject, Dr. Doug Owsley, as it is a chronicle of anthropology case studies. Owsley is the head of the Physical Anthropology Division at the Smithsonian Institute of Natural History, and as such is often called to consult on forensic crime and historic cases. My specific interest is in forensic case studies and I enjoyed reading about those, but it was also interesting to read about some of the historic anthropologic work that has been done. A large p ...more
Amy
I enjoyed reading this book about Dr. Doug Owsley. The book reads as a biography of Dr. Owsley who I think is truly an amazing and gifted man.He is the top Smithsonian Forensic Scientist and has been on every kind of case you can think of from identifying 9/11 victims to researching the world's oldest remains.The book will let you follow a few of the amazing cases he has been apart of.A large part of this book will follow the court case surrounding Kennewick Man that Dr Owsley was a main part of ...more
Diana
Forensic anthropologist Doug Owsley has used his skills to identify many skeletons in a variety of situations. When a mummy that challenges traditional thinking of the arrival of humans to North America surfaces in Kennewick, WA, Doug leads a legal challenge for the right to study it.

I love forensic anthropology, so this was an interesting book. However, it didn't go deep enough into the identification and methods for my liking. Part of it was probably due to a second-hand narrator. I found the
...more
Xarah
Fascinating and controversial story about scientists/archaeologists versus Native Americans for the right to study the remains of the oldest known Native American in North America versus the right to rebury an ancestor.

One has to look at both sides of the story to get the full and complete history of the disagreements between scientists/archaeologists and Native Americans. While scientists and archaeologists have a right to understand the past, Native Americans also have the right to guard and
...more
Moira Harrington
Very interesting topic. The writer's style was frustrating. He started a thread but then dropped it. In one case he resolved it by having the husband of an attorney reappear after surgery, years later with no further mention of that medical condition. My other example is the discovery of a saber tooth tiger den that seemed to have a human tooth at the site. No more details given. In another writer's hands, I would have liked this a lot more. As it stands, I could have just read up on Kennewick M ...more
SueAnn
I checked out Jeff Benedict's No Bone Unturned twice from the library. Unfortunately I just cannot bring myself to read about a Smithsonian forensic scientist who would not repatriate Kennewick Man's bones back to the Native American tribes who claimed him. From reading the front and back flaps this book paints the scientist as a good guy. It's upsetting to me when the government is doing the right thing for Native American tribes and then this guy comes along. It upsets me too much to read it.
Jessica
A story that could easily have come out dry given the strong focus on legal issues surrounding Kennewick Man, but Benedict pitches the inter-agency fracas at a level that's compelling and well-paced for his non-attorney audience. Definitely raises some interesting issues that need to be more fully addressed in the ongoing effort to balance the rights of Native Americans to protect their ancestors and heritage with the value of scientific research into the broader origin story of humanity.
Kris
A highly enjoyable and very readable book in spite of the fact that the prologue was written in complete fanboy mode. The book is obviously biased towards the efforts of the scientists he is profiling but not so much so that he paints the opposition as monsters. Book is very readable for anyone just interested, there is very little jargon or hard science it it. The engaging, easy going writing style made it a page turner and a good book to while away a couple of rainy afternoons.
Kristen
This is quite an interesting look at the work of the top bone expert at the Smithsonian. It walks through a number of cases but focuses on the fight to allow the study of the ancient skeleton of Kennewick man. It is clearly told from his side, but it is a fascinating look at a scientist fighting for science.

The writing is a bit choppy and awkward in places, and sometimes I would like more detail and less hero-worship, but overall a good read!
Lindsey
Great random pick from the local history section of the library. Engrossing, fast-paced, and the author does a good job of showing the legal and political intricacies that arise from anthropology/archaeology with the Kennewick Man case. It would be nice to have a more recent edition of the book detailing how the Kennewick Man case has played out in the 10 years since the book was published, but the Internet can fill in those gaps.
Jen
This was an interesting book about the life and work of Dr. Douglass Owsley, a forensic anthropologist. The cases were very interesting - especially the recounting of the case against the federal government for Kennewick Man; however the writing left much to be desired. Benedict held Owsley up to such regard that it made the book a bit over-the-top at times. Overall it was interesting, but not recommended.
Judy Tate
UH, what to say. Lawyers and more lawyers.
Gayle
Aug 16, 2008 Gayle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers /NF readers
Recommended to Gayle by: Barbera Taft
Barbera Taft loaned me this NF book which was timely with our trip to Pendleton and visit with the Umatilla Tribal people. Real forensics and the story of an amazing man. Bogs down with the legal battle. For all who read Kathy Reichs and watch CSI. The real stuff.
Robin
I found this really interesting, with modern examples and ancient examples of the use of forensic anthropology. It bounces back and forth between a few ongoing stories which I'm not sure is the best approach but it works. Would have loved to have more examples.
Lucy
I was in Dr. George Gill's osteology class and he told us all to read this book- though I think just because he is described as looking like Robert Redford. The subject is interesting (forensic anthropology, repatriation) but the writing is juvenile.
Alex Raines
Here's my issue. The introduction to the book makes it seem as if the focus would be mainly on the forensic scientist and show lots of case studies. Instead, the main focus is on the Kennewick man. Its a very good book, but caveat emptor.
Jim
The contest for the bones of Kennewick man was a bit boring, but there was a lot of interesting information about Native Americans. Interested by the conclusion that another group of humans may have moved east to west.
Hillary
Just started this one the other day - needed a change from all the fluff/YA/etc. OMG - the section about the excavation of the bodies from the Branch Davidian compound in Waco just about did me in.
Paul Roper
This is the third book I've read that concerned Kennewick Man, although this is more specifically about Dr. Doug Owsley, and his absolute brilliance when it comes to bones.
Aaron
Although the narrative felt choppy at points, the story more than makes up for it. The intersections of politics, science, and justice make for a fascinating read.
Carol
Very interesting. Not what I thought the book would be about. It was a little unnerving in some parts. Gives you a good idea what archeology is all about.
April
I am in awe of the things Doug Owsley has seen and done in his lifetime. What an amazing person! This was a great book.
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Jeff Benedict conducted the first national study on sexual assault and athletes. He has published three books on athletes and crime, including a blistering exposé on the NFL, Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, and Public Heroes, Private Felons: Athletes and Crimes Against Women. He is a lawyer and an investigative journalist who has written five books.
More about Jeff Benedict...
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