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Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab - The Body Farm - Where the Dead Do Tell Tales

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  5,401 ratings  ·  351 reviews
A pioneer of modern forensic anthropology reveals secrets of the world's first-and only-laboratory devoted to death.

Forensic science and murder investigations are among the most fascinating topics of our time. Dominating television and print media every season, both as fiction and nonfiction, the subject could not be hotter. As one of the world's leading forensic anthrop
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 27th 2003 by Putnam Adult (first published January 1st 2003)
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Visiting the Body Farm in Tennessee would be my idea of a good day out. A scientific research facility which treats death as an informative transition period rather than something static and final, the Body Farm has become world famous.

As someone who has been routinely staring death in the face (or more accurately into the faces of hundreds of deceased, recent or otherwise), my desk is usually awash with texts and field manuals produced by William Bass and his colleagues. People often mistakenly
Mar 04, 2008 Becky rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
As someone who has had a lifelong fascination with death, decomposition, murder, funerary and burial practices, and all manner of morbid stuff, I was eager to read Death's Acre. I had read a little about the Body Farm previously, so I couldn't wait to get the whole story from the man who started it all, Bill Bass.

I expected the book to focus very narrowly on the Body Farm itself, but that isn't the case. The reader does get information about Bass's background and how he got into anthropology --
Rachel (BAVR)
I picked up this book because the Body Farm fascinates me. Seriously, I'm so taken with that place that I would consider willing my future cadaver there someday if my family approves. In Death's Acre, Dr. William M. Bass, his tale written by the vastly capable Jon Jefferson, takes us on the journey of his exciting career as a forensic anthropologist, professor, and founder of the Body Farm.

There are some very graphic descriptions of human decomposition in this book, which doesn't bother me, but
The writing could be tighter, but his wandering through his life is interesting. How he, an anthropologist developed into a pioneer in the field of forensics is interesting & funny, in rather horrible ways. (A corpse in the closet over the weekend - the poor janitor!) The development & reasoning behind the body farm is also interesting. See Mary Roache's book on corpses - she has a chapter on the body farm & does a wonderful job, too.
Lori Summers
I have a keen interest in forensic science and true crime. I studied forensic anthropology for a little while in grad school (and I feel compelled to add that I did this before it was The In Thing). My interest in the subject was sparked by a book by Dr. William Maples, one of the founders of the field, called Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Dr. Bass is another of the giants in the field, although Maples’ book is more artful and creative than this one, which is somewhat formless and meandering.

I felt li
I'd heard about this fellow's work from several directions before I ever picked up the book (one of my oldest friends has agreed to donate his body to this research facility), and I was frankly enamored with the idea (of the research facility, not the donation).

I was actually mildly disappointed with the scale of his facility -- I had imagined it as a huge spread, out in the wilds of southern Appalachia, with various experiments scattered in the hollows and tucked away at the end of meandering p
Keilani Ludlow
Wow what a book! I am so very glad that my new-ish Goodreads friend, Matt, recommended this book. Exactly what I like.

I love watching the crime/forensic shows. CSI, Criminal Minds, Bones, whatever. However, I get really grossed-out at the graphic visuals and some of the details into the creepy minds leaves me feeling ill. This book has all the good parts without the nasty.

The author started the first body farm in America and is behind (either on his own or thru graduate students he taught) a si
I would have given this book 4 out of 5 stars, but I had one minor, nit-picky complaint. The author gives us only glimpses into his personal life, his beliefs and his childhood. We know by the end of the book that his first two wives died, leaving him lonely and depressed. Then, next thing you know, he's married to someone he knew years ago. I would have liked some tales of their courtship or maybe some more information about her. He mentions at the end that he no longer believes in an afterlife ...more
Examining one of the Bass non-fiction books, the reader will discover that the world of forensic anthropology and crime scene analysis is nothing like that depicted on television, or in most crime novels. Bass seeks not only to delve into the real-world exploration of what he has been doing for the past 25 (at the time) years or so, but also to shed some light on techniques, variations, and the creation of the Body Farm, for which he has become known since its creation in 1980. Adding some perso ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Brandee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone in the medical field or interested in crime stories
I was sad when I read the last sentence of this book; I did not want it to end. When I started reading this book I wanted to read about dead bodies and the story behind the bodies, the cause of death and if it was a murder victim then the story of how the person was killed. The first chapter did start out talking about a body but it also started talking about the life of Bill Bass, the founder of the Body Farm, which I wasn’t interested in but I had to remind myself that this book is a memoir of ...more
patrycja polczyk
I was very much looking forward to reading this book, as I’m fascinated with bodies and science of how they decay. I’m also an anthropologist - cultural one, but still fascinated with anything anthropological. This book is excellent and I was in love with it the moment I’ve started reading it. History of dr Bass and his creation of Body Farm is like a really great adventure for me. I give it 4 stars only because I wasn’t exactly happy with the fact, that he was repeating himself quite often, alm ...more
Lil' Grogan
A fascinating read with far more humour and heart than I expected. My own interest in forensics is purely born from watching CSI. Found it intriguing to read about how and where some of the knowledge in the field was developed.

Majority of the book is about Bass' career as a physical anthropologist, with a concentration on his work in crime cases and small bits about his personal life. Bass is also generous in devoting time to the achievements of his students and colleagues in the field. Liked t
Kayla Mcminn
By far the most interesting, informative book I have! I loved it, I wish I didn't have to put it down as much as I did. I was so content with this read I had to research into other books and I found a TV series about the body farm and stayed up all night watching six episodes. Going to order some more books on the body farm, this particular book was so easy to read, it was all explained and no heavy use of jargon.
Death's Acre is primarily a series of interesting stories about solving crimes through forensic science. Jon Jefferson has assisted Dr. Bass in writing a really engaging memoir. This book could have been just a series a CSI type stories, but it is more than that. I found Dr. Bass's discussion of his loss of religious faith particularly interesting. He practiced a conventional Christian faith for over 60 years. His direct experience with horrific murders did not shake it, but the cancer deaths of ...more
This book was incredible! Bill Bass gives an easy to read background to forensic anthropology. This is definitely a must read if you like to watch crime drama television such as Bones or have an interest in anthropology. Surprisingly, this book wasn't dry, which I kind of hoped it would be! However, Bass included little pieces of his humor which had me laughing out loud while I was reading it. Death's Acre was the type of book that I didn't want to put down. Bass also includes a section with pic ...more
I really enjoyed learning about the Body Farm and how it came to be. I have read Patricia Cornwell's book The Body Farm and so learning the lengths she went to for her research for a death scene in the book was great and encouraging to hear that she really cared if her books are realistic. Also learning where the techniques that are taken for granted today came from, who thought them up, and the experiments done to create these techniques. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the ...more
Katy Jane
Thoughts on chapter 1: The Bones of the Eaglet
1. This guy is very funny.
2. I want to read more about Charles Lindbergh.
3. I am totally interested in what this guy has to say.
4. Let me tell my husband all of the things I'm learning.
5. I read a book called Working Stiff by Judy Melinek about her becoming a medical examiner. Her dad committed suicide. In Death's Acre, Bill's dad committed suicide. Is there maybe a link to their future careers? Wanting to find answers?
Thoughts on chapter 2: Dead In
Kit Dunsmore
Starting watching the TV series Bones, which made me want to get this book out again. I've already read it before, but it's interesting to read how science can and can't solve murders. And for reasons I can't understand, I'm absolutely fascinated by forensics, although I don't think I could stomach the realities of the job if I tried...

This book is excellent for those with little scientific background. Everything technical is explained clearly in non-scientific terms.
John Bruni
This is one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I've ever read. It's going to be hard to not write an entire book about how much I enjoyed it, but I'll give it a shot. If you've ever wondered what really happens to the human body after life has departed, this book will answer it so well you'll almost be an expert in forensic anthropology when you're done. Hollywood always gets it wrong. It's shocking how quickly a corpse dissolves out in the open, at least in areas where it gets reasonably ...more
“Death’s Acre” is not what it claims to be: “Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales.”
It’s Bill Bass’s bloated memoir, brimming with useless information, bogging down readers and serving no purpose.
It’s also Bill Bass’s chance to stand up and accuse men and women, not convicted in a court of law, of being murderers. More on that later.
Bass writes about all sorts of things, including a few of his cases and cases of his colleagues. He writes a little about the
Fascinating and sometimes morbidly unsettling. A little-known research facility that has greatly advanced the science of investigating death, homicidal or otherwise. A useful reference for anyone writing police procedural fiction, and very interesting in its own right. But be prepared, some of the content is explicit and grisly, though not voyeuristic or exploitative.
This was a really interesting book. Sad, funny, fascinating and often gross, it is the sort of book that you want to talk to people about, but have second thoughts about whether it is a good idea to bring it up. Definitely glad it wasn't scratch and sniff. Not really appropriate for dinner table conversation, unless of course you happen to be dining with me.
Kathleen Brugger
I learned about the Body Farm some years back while researching options for donating my body after death. Dr. Bass is a forensic anthropologist and he started the first research facility into the processes that bodies go through after death in many environments—exposed in the woods, locked in car trunks or basements, under water, etc. Dr. Bass’ work has served all of us by greatly improving the knowledge base needed to solve murders. His combination of a warm caring personality and a passion for ...more
The story of the body farm itself and the cases was interesting and fascinating. However I could have done with a lot less of the history of his marriages. The last one - seriously 'Sad why don't you marry ...' was kinda weird.

But again - the history of this field and the development was great. But wives drop it to 3 stars
Sarah Louise Leach
Some very interesting information from an innovator of forensic pathology, but a little too much about the man, jovial brilliant person though he clearly is, to make this book what I was expecting. I feel I have learned plenty of (hopefully useless to me!) essential grisly dead body facts, so not bad at all.
alicia leonard
Most informative and interesting book I have read to date.

As a 26 yr old phlebotomist and mother of 2, I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up. I always thought, the medical field of course. I'm good at it, I'm good with patients, and I can hit a vein faster than you can blink, but still I just didn't know. When I decided to think about taking a different career path, I wanted something, anything, to give me some insight on what would interest me. so I though anthropology? foren
This had the easy writing style of the Body Farm series. I found it fascinating to see where some of the real world experiences came for the creation of the fictional books. An interesting easy read, that sometimes you forget it is not just another story.
Better than the Forensic Files on tv. Very detailed and interesting but a bit gruesome, unless you like reading about decomposition.

Remember the old school song, 'the worms crawled in and the worms crawled out'? That about sums it up.
I really enjoyed reading this book! I love anthropology and Bass's cases are very interesting to read about. His writing and language is not hard to understand and, even though it is non fiction, it keeps you interested and is a fun read!
I loved this book. It's definitely got me interested in forensic anthropology. I only wish my life was this interesting!
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Co Authors with
Jon Jefferson

William M. Bass, often credited as Bill Bass, is a U.S. forensic anthropologist, renowned for his research on human osteology and human decomposition. He has also assisted federal, local, and non-US authorities in the identification of human remains. He taught at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and though currently retir
More about William M. Bass...
Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries, and the Revolution in Forensic Science Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual (Special Publications of the Missouri Archaeological Society, No. 2.) Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries and the Real World of C.S.I. Bodies We've Buried : Inside the National Forensic Academy, the World's Top CSI Training School Madonna and Corpse (Body Farm #6.5)

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“I'm sure the makers of Downy would be pleased to know that their product makes even mummified human skin soft and fragrant. ” 12 likes
“We’re organisms; we’re conceived, we’re born, we live, we die, and we decay. But as we decay we feed the world of the living: plants and bugs and bacteria.” 7 likes
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