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Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  896 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
* JFK's autopsy failed to disclose crucial evidence.
* The deaths of John Belushi and Elvis Presley were far more complex than anyone has let on.
* Decisive medical findings in the von Bulow affair were consistently overlooked.
These are but three of the shocking revelations in Dr. Michael Baden's first-person, no-holds-barred account of his distinguished career in forensic p
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 28th 1990 by Ballantine Books (first published 1989)
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Sep 12, 2015 William rated it really liked it
Like many others that have read this book, I first encountered Dr. Michael Baden as the host of HBO's Autopsy documentary series. I was deeply fascinated by that show and I was absolutely delighted when I happened upon a copy of Unnatural Death. Having spent a large part of my youth combing through every true crime magazine I could get my hands on, this book was the next evolution for me being written by one of the very best forensic pathologists in the world! I have to say I was certainly not d ...more
Aug 31, 2015 Sneil222 rated it really liked it
Was very hard subject matter but very fascinating. I could not put it down. Not for the faint of heart as some parts were hard to read...murders and baby deaths. But very good book.
Stacy Simpson
Dec 22, 2015 Stacy Simpson rated it it was amazing
This was a very interesting book. Made me feel like I should have pursued my dreams of becoming a coroner like I wanted too. Excellent read pick it up!!!
Sep 28, 2014 Katie rated it liked it
Medical examining has always interested me, I even spent a bit of time in nursing school thinking that was the direction I wanted to go into, so when a friend at work told me she had found this book at a yard sale and was reading it, I told her I was going to need to borrow it. Unfortunately this was copywrite'd in 1989, so obviously the technology isn't so up to date, I imagine in 25 years of discovery, they're now far more adept at unearthing the hows and whys of death. I would be very interes ...more
Jun 03, 2016 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: currently-own
This book was extremely interesting. It really had a lot of good information. Esp info that relates to some local cases (Justice for Molly Young and Justice for Pravin Varughese- search google for more info on these cases in Carbondale, IL that have not been solved but need to be because of their extremely suspicious circumstances. ) that have issues between autopsy reports, police , and the judicial system. Worth a read ! A little older but i flew through it and love every page. So informative.
This memoir of one of the most famous medical examiners is a decent showing. It is immediately clear that Dr. Baden's strength is science, rather than writing -- many of his cases lack a proper setup, climax and/or conclusion and he could stand to add some excitement to his descriptions of his findings.

The two major flaws of this book are length and audience. At approximately 250 pages for a narrative that covers Kennedy, Belushi, Marilyn Monroe, three serial killers, a prison riot, Baden's sun
Samantha A.
Feb 09, 2013 Samantha A. rated it really liked it
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got gut and disgust exercise by reading books of the suspense Queen, Mary Higgins Clark. She is AWESOME. So if you can survive just a teeny tiny bit of gory description, this book will be interesting. It possesses a scientific tone and spews out scientific terms, yet it still draws interest from an average reader. As you can probably see from the cover, it is a fascinating look into the world of underestimated Medical Examiners. I always thought of them as import ...more
Samantha Brandt
Mar 23, 2013 Samantha Brandt rated it really liked it
This took me a while to get through. That being said, it was a very informative account of an ME. I loved how Dr. Baden wrote about his interesting cases, and explained his role in the criminal justice system/ medical field. It is absolutely amazing to think that this book was written in 1989. Forensics have advanced since the writing of this book. Its just astounding to think that the work that Dr. Baden was doing predated CSI or any of the comparable shows.

I think that we all have an idea of f
Jan 28, 2016 Debbie rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book, some places were a little dry and scientific but I really enjoyed it. We got to learn some details of cases that a real life medical examiner worked on. Some of the cases were famous people and events, some were a little hard to take, like the case of a mother who killed her 9 children. This book got me from the first to the last page. I really enjoyed it.
May 14, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it
Graphically accurate descriptions of autopsies and decaying bodies are the based for Baden’s most interesting recollections of forensic medicine. Follow the details as Doctor Baden revisits bodies, trace evidence, and tangled relationships. Science contrasted with against scientific as case after case in examined to find the real cause of death.
Jul 31, 2011 Trish rated it liked it
Other than the occasional commentary on how HE was wronged, I found the book interesting and thought provoking. I guess I had never considered the political fallout and the pressure placed on the ME to "agree" with the DA or politicians more than ensure the truth was sought. Sadly the forensic pathologist has been relegated to the bastard stepchild of the medical profession. Rather than the focus on prevention of other lives lost, they are pressured to make the families feel better about themsel ...more
Wendy Pierce
Sep 23, 2015 Wendy Pierce rated it liked it
I can see how this book is important to some people, especially people going in to the ME field. There were a lot of important topics in this book. The author seemed to be justifying his job at points. It was interesting to read, but just not my cup of tea. After a while I felt like I was reading a textbook.
Sep 08, 2015 Cherie rated it really liked it
This was very interesting. I was confused at several points as to the purpose of the book. At times I felt it was to expose the unknown world of medical examination. At other times it felt like a justification of the authors existence or a validation of his importance. Perhaps that was a projection of the readers mindset. However, the content was fascinating.
Nov 22, 2015 Dawn rated it liked it
3.5 stars. It was a very informative and interesting read that was to the point. It wasn't enthralling or humorous at all. VERY political and's one you can easily pick up or put between starting and finishing I read another book, I never do that, but you don't become too overly involved. It's like a text book of a subject you love.
Feb 11, 2012 g-na rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology-medicine
Another book about dead bodies and the people that examine them, except this time written by an actual medical examiner. The forensics books I've read to date have all been written by anthropologists, who work in a slightly different capacity than medical examiners, who are medical doctors. While a forensic anthropologist is only called in when there is a question about the cause of or circumstances surrounding a death, and is apparently only called in when the body is no longer "fresh," an M.D. ...more
Jul 18, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it
so very interesting, but since it's kind of old, I'm not sure if the info is outdated. but fascinating nonetheless.
Aug 17, 2008 Shauna rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Shauna by: Jay
Shelves: loved-it
Okay, I really get into these kinds of books, not necessarily because I'm a fan of mystery or detective novels, but I love the idea of looking for patterns to draw conclusions about human behavior. Baden talks a lot about the process of forensic science and what you look for to draw conclusions about what has happened. It's amazing too, how sloppy some medical examiners can be in their procedures. Totally entertaining and I learned a lot in the process.
Sep 21, 2011 Kirsten rated it really liked it
The prose is pretty workmanlike here, and I agree with a lot of reviewers who've mentioned that there is little in the way of set up for a lot of the stories. All the same, this is a fascinating account of what it means to be a talented medical examiner. I particularly enjoyed the detective aspect of it: cases where others had drawn the wrong conclusions, and it took someone like Dr. Baden to piece things together and determine what had really occurred.
Jul 23, 2011 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
c1989. I think that this book did not actually live up to the blurb on the back. However, there were still some nice little tit bits of information. Interesting insights into some of the more notorious incidents of death. Not light reading due to subject matter and only a few little hints about the man himself although this wasn't meant to be an autobiography so why the sub title Confessions of a forensic pathologist?
Jul 23, 2008 Dave rated it really liked it
A short brief compilation of many different cases involving suicide, murder, drug OD. The medical examiner uses scientific methodology to determine cause of death using forensic pathology methods. Not bogged down with medical terminology, it explains post mortem easily enough for most to understand.
Nov 28, 2011 Eva rated it really liked it
A well-written, intriguing book about the world of forensic pathology. This sort of book is not for those with queasy stomachs, though I am living proof one can get used to anything. I read this with my husband, because it relates to his studies. I wish the author had given a little more conclusion to some of the cases, but he probably provided as much information as he could given privacy laws, etc.
Jess Boynton
Apr 29, 2009 Jess Boynton rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, it was easy to read, not heavy on the medical terminology. A good book for a the same time I learned medical stuff (that's the technical term *g*). Also of interest was the many high profile cases Mr. Baden worked on. This book definitely makes me interested in ready more in this particular field and genre.
Rebecca Sage
I've always like Autopsy on HBO so I was interested to read something by Michael Baden. He's certainly the most recognizable name in forensics, at least from a pop culture standpoint.

The cases are a bit dated (Claus Von Bulow etc.) but the history of the profession of medical examiners was quite interesting.

A quick read good for the train.
Jan 09, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
While it's not written as well as it could be, "Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner" is informative. If you have a weak stomach I wouldn't reccomend it as he does delve into some ugly details, but if you're interested in science, or you're a big CSI fan, this book is a great first hand account of what really goes on.
Jessica Shaver
Jun 09, 2008 Jessica Shaver rated it liked it
Much has changed in forensics since this book hit the shelves in 1989. OJ, CSI...all of these things have opened the public's eyes to what Medical Examiners actually do. Nonetheless, I found this relatively engaging -- probably because, deep down, I'm terribly macabre. One complaint! No ending per just STOPS.
Jun 21, 2008 Jeremy rated it liked it
Interesting book where a former NYC medical examiner tells about cases he has been a part of over the years. I enjoyed it, but towards the end I was just wanting to be done with it. That could have been because I had just received a book I really wanted to read though!
Aug 29, 2008 Tamika rated it liked it
Very intersting and factual. Although I was aware that this book is more of a memoir than a book about medical examinations in general, I did feel that Baden spent a little too much time exonerating himself over past mistakes and/or misunderstandings.
Aug 17, 2011 Paige rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
An interesting overview of the politics involved in being an ME. Baden's a fairly engaging author though I felt like he tried to span too much. There's a surface view of a hell of a lot, but some of the depth is missing from it.
Sep 04, 2007 Kelly rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
As a former Chief Medical Examiner of NYC, the author has a few things he wants to set straight. This book provides him with the opportunity to explain both himself and his work, which (fortunately) is rather fascinating.
Mar 02, 2013 Jessica rated it liked it
I didn't like the way this author came off. I felt like he had a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. Alot of his stories were from the standpoint of THEY WERE WRONG AND I WAS RIGHT AND HERE'S why.
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Michael M. Baden is a physician and board-certified forensic pathologist known for his work investigating high-profile deaths and as a host of HBO's Autopsy. He is also the Forensic Science Contributor for Fox News Channel. ~ Wikipedia
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