The Death of Innocents: A True Story of Murder, Medicine, and High-Stake Science
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The Death of Innocents: A True Story of Murder, Medicine, and High-Stake Science

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  94 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Unraveling a twenty-five-year tale of multiple murder and medical deception, The Death of Innocents is a work of first-rate journalism told with the compelling narrative drive of a mystery novel. More than just a true-crime story, it is the stunning expose of spurious science that sent medical researchers in the wrong direction--and nearly allowed a murderer to go unpunish...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published July 13th 2011 by Bantam (first published 1997)
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Linda
Astonishing and griping non-fiction. A Munchausen by proxy murderer of five of her own infants went undetected for two decades, in great part due to a single flawed medical journal article. The back-story of the relentlessly ambitious M.D. who turned a blind eye to the “unthinkable” notion that a mother could murder her babies, was as frightening as the infanticides themselves. Rather than investigate the obvious (and many were voicing their concerns) he chose to advance his own career by foster...more
jeff
A fascinating, distressing, draining, frustrating, triumphant beast of a book. Sarah was warned that it got a little dense regarding the SIDS information (that she took that to be a good sign that i would enjoy it speaks to her deep understanding of me), and it does, but it is also a true crime story as well as a courtroom drama with one of the most intriguing (not to say deeply disturbing) antagonists i've encountered in quite a while. I got this book for xmas and i just finished it yesterday,...more
j
At least once, I was reading on the subway and missed my stop because I was so sucked-in that I forgot to look up! I haven't been this fascinated by a book in I couldn't tell you how long. I was expecting it to be, you know, interesting enough and all, but not anywhere near this enthralling. Most long-ish true crime books, I find myself about 100 pages in thinking "Are you serious? They are going to drag this out for 200 more pages when everyone already knows exactly how it turns out?" but this,...more
Kim Moyer
This was an interesting story and I thought it went quickly considering that it was over 700 pages long. I spend the entire story questioning how no one could have realized what was going on the the main family in the story. To hear the supposed explanations of how these children died, you can't help but know that something is wrong.

As someone who works in academic research (although not clinical work) it is amazing to me that the lies and falsehoods in the 1972 SIDS/apnea paper took so long to...more
Anna
You will not put this book down and you will never forget it. Guaranteed.
Elizabeth
This is basically a textbook of the SIDS and apnea monitors movement. One researcher at Syracuse Medical Center made a long term study of infants who die with SIDS. He believed from his somewhat faulty research that apnea caused SIDS and began prescribing the newly made infant apnea machines. In addition he did not believe that mothers, the usual person last with an infant, would kill her babies to make it look like SIDS. As others joined the field it was felt, and proven, that in healthy newbor...more
Lizzie
A prosecutor in upstate New York investigated a family in which three children had all died of SIDS. When he brought in experts he learned that current thinking is that SIDS doesn't run in families and that this looked like murder. The father was subsequently convicted. One of the experts mentioned that a paper that's used to "prove" that SIDS is a family disease was based on a family in New York state who lost five children. He got interested in that case and found the family, along with eviden...more
Evanston Public  Library
Death of Innocents is a roller coaster true crime book about infanticide that opens with a case from 1995 and takes the reader back two decades to a case involving a family in which five children all died of SIDS. More than just a true-crime story, it is a stunning expose of corrupt science involving a world renowned SIDS researcher, the medical equipment industry, many in the medical community, and a mother so hungry for attention she was willing to murder her own children to get it.

Rika G.
Megan Kudzia
This book was amazing and horrifying and hard to read. The authors do a good job of reminding readers, when the subject matter gets particularly intense, that the number of people who deliberately harm their own children in this way is extremely rare. They do justice to a number of topics - the difficulty in pursuing a criminal case years after the fact, and science's ongoing difficulty understanding and dealing with Sudden Unexpected Death in infants, most prominently. It's a fascinating read.
Jessica
God. Years after reading this nonfiction book about a woman with Munchausen by Proxy, I still get chills up my spine thinking about the case and the book. The woman profiled in this book lost five children, supposedly to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Then police got suspicious. Ultimately, Waneta Hoyt confessed to killing her babies. This is a gripping medical mystery.
Michelle
Read this awhile ago, but I still reference this all the time, especially in my library research classes. It is fascinating and horrifying all at the same time. The plot revolves around the topic of a physician caught up in researching SIDS he neglected to focus on the patients really issue, Maunchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Great medical non-fiction.
Rachel Jaffe
This was a truly fascinating book. The true crime aspect was interesting enough (Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy), but even more interesting was the insight into how this case was so influential in the literature regarding SIDS. It was a big book with a large cast of characters, but very readable.
Debbie
This book was very interesting. I read it for an attorney I worked for, we were representing a doctor in a case where it was found the mother had Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The doctor was mentioned in this book and the attorney wanted to read it, but didn't have the time.
Tammy Hambrick-virgili


This is such a heart wrenching and intriguing story told with such attention to detail. The chronology of events is unfolded perfectly. I've read this book so many times over, and will probably read it many more times, in years to come. Outstanding.
Christen
Nonfiction. SIDS is a difficult topic to focus on for 600+ pages, but the story behind what was long known about SIDS is absolutely wild. One of my neonatology professors is a SIDS expert who is quoted a few times (Kattwinkel). I'll never forget this one.
Nonny
I didn't enjoy this book.....actually, it isn't meant to be enjoyed I 'spouse. It it long, not easy to read, and the topic is unthinkable.... That is really the point though. I am glad I read it though.....at least now I know. August 21, 2013
Cate
Fascinating. Really interesting stuff about science and medicine and crime...but also some very sad stories. I'd recommend it, although not for anyone who has trouble reading about bad things happening to kids.
Sara Peattie
Two people who are as different as possible, but are completely awful in different ways, call to eachother across the void, and join together to cause wide-spread havoc.
Lucy
An amazing story somewhat inexpertly told.
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