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The Bone Lady: Life as a Forensic Anthropologist

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  594 ratings  ·  67 reviews
When a skeleton is all that's left to tell the story of a crime, Mary H. Manhein, otherwise known as "the bone lady," is called in. For almost two decades, Manhein has used her expertise in forensic pathology to help law enforcement agents--locally, nationally, and internationally--solve their most perplexing mysteries. She shares the extraordinary details of the often hig ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 1999)
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And I thought you couldn't go wrong with case study books about forensic anthropology... Half of the case studies in the book end with something to the effect of, "and we never did find out what happened." Not many of the cases were terribly interesting to begin with, not much detail is given (the average case study seems to be only 5 or 6 pages long), not a lot of forensic information is given. It's almost if this were an annotated synopsis of some cases she had to help jog her memory after she ...more
I know people are going to hate me for this, but this was THE WORST FORENSINCS BOOK I'VE EVER READ!!!. Obviously, in my opinion, this lady is NOT a writer and she should stick to the science part of her career. This book had sooo much potential, I can see that, but her boring and unappealing writing made this book unbearable to read, at least in my case. Sorry for those who liked this book, but I just can't share your opinion :/
This book describes some of the "interesting" cases that Forensic Anthropologist Mary Manhein has helped solve. This "Bone Lady" also tells her readers why she chose this profession as well as describes the processes of determining information about the skeletons she finds. However, her writing style made this book not very interesting. Watch Bones on Fox instead. That's way more interesting.
Manhein reports on some of her cases as a forensic anthropologist.

I was disappointed with the book. Very little detail. But more importantly - the 'so what' of each chapter was very light. Her tone is friendly. And I'm sure she makes an interesting dinner table companion. But the stories were just not strong enough.
Sep 22, 2012 Ann rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Bones or CSI
Recommended to Ann by: Maggie
Shelves: nonfiction
frustrating lack of details. By necessity sometimes of course -- she mostly reports what the evidence tells her, and so sometimes she does not have much evidence. But even when she does, I felt like she was holding back some details either to protect the surviving family or to protect the reader from something disturbing. That's a fine line -- sometimes I am disturbed when all the facts of the case are laid out with gory intricacy, but generally I think more is better than less for me.

Side note:
Gillian Brownlee
I finally got around to finishing this book! Hooray! I started reading it when I took Ms. Manhein's introductory forensic anthropology class. I actually got to hear her talk about many of these cases in person, which was fascinating.

The Bone Lady is very short and very general, and I think that's why people take issue with it. She doesn't go into gruesome details, or share in depth processes. She simply tells the stories of the deceased that she had helped to identify. And that's why she does w
2.5 stars. Had these stories been fleshed out into a cohesive narrative, this would be a great book. They were all incredibly short-winded, though, so it isn't. Read William R. Maples' Dead Men Do Tell Tales instead.
What is a forensic anthropologist? "We are physical anthropologists who are trained in the human skeleton, and we use that training in a medico-legal context to assist law enforcement."

The real live "Bone Lady," Mary Manhein, answers this and another questions with smooth narrative and a Southerner's story-telling charm.
A Louisiana State University graduate who didn't begin undergraduate studies until her early thirties, Manheim weaves her own autobiography into the short book's twenty-seven cha
It amazes me that each time I read a book about Forensic Anthropology, I learn more and more about the human body. This was a very quick read, but I am glad that I had read several other books on the subject prior to this book.
Although I gave it only 3 stars, I greatly enjoyed this book. In short, it is comprised of simple true short stories (with names changed, of course), told in a thoroughly southern style. This is as much its strength as its weakness; while you're lefting wishing for more details, the simple factuality of it all makes any single story far more fascinating than a bloated TV episode. It's so much better written, in fact, than the novels by a certain better-known forensic anthropologist, that I'm a l ...more
This was a very quick read. Each chapter is only a few pages long at most and doesn't disappoint in the cultural-sociological aspect, but was quite dumbed down in regards to the actual physical forensics, which was disappointing to me. I was really hoping for something a bit more technical. Instead it was kind of like reading obituaries with all the interesting stuff added in. ::Well how did Mr. Doe actually die? Oh, with a candlestick in the library to the back of the head?:: Not as glamorous ( ...more

I gave this one 2 out of 5 stars. For me the chapters were too short and I was left always wishing for the stories to be fleshed out. Many were based around her childhood. An example would be that she starts one story out talking about how she's been sent on a mission to get horse bones for an insurance company that wants her to prove that the horses were starved to death. Within 2 paragraphs she tells us what her objective is and that she can't do it due to the fact that she really doesn't work
The lady that wrote this book taught my Intro to Physical Anthropology course in college. She is one of my most memorable professors. When we studied primates, she came to class one day dressed in a gorilla costume and acted out gorilla behavior for us. I loved going to her class and I almost became a forensic anthropologist in part because of her. Her book is a very interesting read.
Susan Louque
Totally loved this. Got to meet Mary Manhein and she signed my book. My favorite story in the book was about the coffin found with what the homeowner thought was a small child's bones. Mary Manhein said that is was small dog who had arthritis. She was proven correct a week later by a previous homeowner who said if they would dig 3 feet over the other dog's coffin would be found.
Alicia Wozniak
This book inspired me to go back to school for my Ph.D. in Forensic Anthropology. I already have a BA in Communications from OSU. I did go back and took a freshmen level Anthropology class. I cheated my way through that class and decided Dr. Wozniak sounded awesome, but wouldn't be a reality. However, this book is a good read about the author's life as a Forensic Anthropologist.
It was a GREAT book! It was not long enough for me. I read a book a long time ago in another life about Forensic Anthropology and thought if only I had time and brains...
This woman has so many interesting (but sad) stories. I have not checked to see if she has written anything else but if not, she should!
I read this book in less than a day.
Boring and poorly written. Has very little about forensic anthropology, is mostly a few, brief vignettes from her life. Very little research or background on the cases given.
If you want to know more about Mary Manheim, you might be interested. If you want to know more about forensic anthropology, skip it. 3/26/2011
Corrine Hortin
Insanely interesting!
Annette Roman
Meh. Could have been a lot more in-depth and interesting. Spare and informative rather than overwrought and overwritten, which is appreciated from a writer who is not a writer by profession, but... Meh.
I think a lot of the negative reviews for this book come from those that watch the TV show "Bones" or one of the other crime lab shows and expect these high-profile super interesting cases and that is not what this book is. This woman is a scientist, not a writer or an actor. She reveals that cases aren't like what we see on "Bones," "CSI," and all the various other crime shows we see on TV. I really enjoyed this book and it was a great light read.
A very readable autobiography about what it is like for a woman to enter the male dominated world of forensics. She gives due credit to those who helped her on the way, then dives into telling the tales of the cases which influenced her most notably along the way. I really enjoyed readiing about this topic from a woman's point of view. The author manages to be both deep and very readable - a real feat! I highly enjoyed this book.
I really wanted to love this book. This writer seemed more focused on making a semi biography that made herself look like an interesting and romantic herione than on crafting a good story about forensic science and how it helped these cases. There were small tidbits of good stuff, but it was overshadowed by bad writing and disappointing content.
Stina Zombean
I enjoyed the cases discussed for the most part, it being my field of interest, however I do wish they had been more in depth. One of my favorite things was sitting in class and listening to my professor recount her stories of past cases. What factors were the most useful in the case, what challenges she faced, and how it turned out.

Manheim does something like this with one of the first cases she discusses, and the rest are abbreviated accounts. It read very much like have an idle conversation
Gary Brooks
I enjoyed the ' microscopic' forensic details of this work. learnt a lot about facial reconstruction and wound pathology as well.
A series of vignettes about the author's work as a forensic anthropologist, an anthropologist trained in examining human skeletal remains and determining age, gender, time since death, and possible causes of death. Interesting little stories and brief insights into why Manhein finds her job so satisfying. If you're looking for a book with an overarching theme or in-depth information on forensic anthropology, this is not the book you're looking for, and I'm not sure there's enough detail to satis ...more
Not as good as Bill Bass, but I still loved it despite the bad reviews.
Rebecca Coday
Not much detail, very breezy and light.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the medical profession, law enforcement, or a different and interesting book. It can be graphic and disgusting due to the nature of the topic, but it is written with scientific precision rather than gore. Each chapter is a different story, so it is easy to put down and catch back up again later.
Nov 23, 2007 Robin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
It is obvious this book was written before the big interest in the forensic sciences as it now seems quite quaint in its descriptions of the trials and tribulations the author went through in her career spanning from the 1980's to early 90's. Lacking much scientific information it reads more like a short story than non-fiction, and at 137 pages it is a very quick read. There are a lot of tales that I wish she had fleshed out more but I found the references to her upbringing in 1950's Louisiana q ...more
 PuMbA's MoMmy*•.♥.•*
The book was very short. I would have liked to have read further into the stories Mary told. There were however some interesting cases she has worked on that she spoke briefly the about. The ending chapter was good though because I liked the fact that she said she preferred to solve John & Jane Doe cases rather than famous ones.
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