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Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries, and the Revolution in Forensic Science

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,162 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
There is no scientist in the world like Dr. Bill Bass. A pioneer in forensic anthropology, Bass created the world's first laboratory dedicated to the study of human decomposition—three acres of land on a hillside in Tennessee where human bodies are left to the elements. His research at "the Body Farm" has revolutionized forensic science, helping police crack cold cases and ...more
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by William Morrow & Company (first published 2007)
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Patricia Cornwell wrote a book called The Body Farm, this book is about the REAL body farm where forensic research is done. Dr. Bass has spent many years researching bones and the effects of the elements on dead bodies. His expertise has helped convict murderers, identified loved ones and solved mysteries.

He recounts not only what goes on at the Farm but also many of the cases he has been on. He gives credit where credit is due, citing work done by other scientists and his students. His specialt
May 17, 2015 Naomi rated it really liked it
Like their book Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales, Beyond the Body Farm chronicles the cases of Dr. Bill Bass. With the authors' high quality of writing present, I was engrossed in the how it was solved explanations that were laid out for readers.

The only thing that I wish with this book is that I would have listened to it as I did Death Acres. There was something powerful in listening to the words that was missing in reading about the cas
Apr 10, 2016 Liralen rated it really liked it
Beyond the Body Farm is something of a follow-up to Death's Acre—more bodies, more explanations of how Bass & co. determined those bodies' identities and/or time of death and/or method of death. Of particular interest are some cases that weren't solved for decades—cases that just kept coming back until new information or technology could shed better light on them.

Some other, slightly more random points: Bass talks about some research he did in the Middle East, digging up skeletons some 3,000
Jul 25, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it
Bass returns with his second non-fiction book, further explaining his career as a forensic anthropologist and life on the Body Farm. While the book reads well independently, any reader not well versed with Bass’ work (having read all the Body Farm fiction series) ought to take the time to at least read DEATH’S ACRE, the memoir of sorts that Bass penned. This book offers a continuation in that light, highlighting some of the other cases and offers an even more detailed look at some of the techniq ...more
Keilani Ludlow
May 15, 2013 Keilani Ludlow rated it really liked it
The second non-fiction from Dr Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson.
This could be considered a follow up to Death’s Acre, and it is definitely helpful, though not necessary, to have read Death’s Acre first.

In the first book, Dr. Bass was following a time line, telling his own story. And though it was fact, it read like a story. In this book, he is no longer following a time line, he is just telling about different cases he has worked on. Some were solved, some were not. It is interesting and enjoyable to
Mar 02, 2013 Gretchen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book just a couple of months after I finished the original Body Farm book by Dr. Bass. This one was quite similar, though I did learn new fascinating facts about embalming, bodies as projectiles, and facial reconstruction.

I enjoyed the book and finished it quickly. The book read almost as mini mysteries in each chapter and as such, I was eager to read to the conclusions. If you can get beyond the sadness and downright rage you may feel when reading some of these stories, you can app
Apr 05, 2009 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Every so often I like to read some kind of book on forensics. I liked this one because it not only tells about some of the cases Bill Bass has been involved with, but it uses those cases to show some of the different ways bodies are identified, time of death is estimated, and crimes are solved.

The authors discuss forensic dentistry, dna, insect identification, weapons and how their use can be detected in the bones, how bones survive fires, and other tools. They also explain what can and can not
Aug 02, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Blazed through this in two days. Absolutely fascinating. Bass is so knowledgeable and able to present his information, findings and work in an easily understandable fashion. There are always people who can take an inherently interesting subject and make it very, very dry -- thankfully Bass isn't one of them. I enjoy his writing style almost as much as the subject matter. There was some repetition of explanations which makes the book feel like it was written case-by-case instead of as a whole. No ...more
Great on at least three levels. This is extremely well written; it's about fascinating scientific work including important research; and it's about how that science has been used to help society and individuals by helping bereaved people find out what happened to their family members and in many cases solving murders and leading to the killers being incarcerated. Given the very serious subject matter, I'm also amazed that the authors were able to make it lively and at times funny reading without ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Bob rated it really liked it
A fun read, looking at the world of forensic science from the personal perspective of one of the key players. Each chapter is a single case and told in an engaging, story-like manner. And each illustrates the development or application of a new tool or technique.
Julie Lawson
May 28, 2013 Julie Lawson rated it it was amazing
Immensely interesting - have read it twice !
Nan Silvernail
Oct 13, 2011 Nan Silvernail rated it really liked it
A pilot takes an excited teen up in his plane to see the pretty night lights of a city and they never return. A grandmother's body is found, but the case of her identity has to twine over several years until it is finally solved. 3,000 years ago, three men rush to save a priceless beautiful solid gold bowl from a burning temple and looters and are crushed by the falling roof. Were they priests, looters, raiders, local or the invaders? The Big Bopper's son has questions about "The day the music d ...more
Julie Haigh
Oct 07, 2013 Julie Haigh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone interested in DNA testing/Forensics/Finding Cause of Death
Recommended to Julie by: Amazon recommendations

This is a really fascinating book. I have recently read quite a few of this type of book and, rather than getting bored of this subject and feeling like I need a change, I actually just want to read more-especially by this author. Bill Bass writes in a way that is easy to understand and he explains everything. He includes a glossary of terms and even a few anatomical diagrams. There are lots of black and white photos included which show findings/how they proved a person was who they were, ph
Jul 12, 2015 Penny rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Overall, the collection of stories was pretty well written. There was a wonderful conversational tone which felt so much like listening to someone tell a story, drifting to related subjects before gently gliding back. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in forensic work, or if you've run out of episodes of Bones and would like to read about the real work.

That being said, the book comes with a warning. It can be pretty graphic. Dr. Bass clearly intends this to be a no holds ba
Dec 09, 2010 Suzanne rated it it was ok
This book suffers mostly from the existence of shows like Bones and CSI, which have been "educating" readers on the subject for the last ten years. I'd already heard about most of the techniques he described, but even the new ones were framed by flat storytelling. I understand that real life is not as interesting as tv, but I felt this lacked pizazz, given the subject matter.

Despite the ho-hum delivery, it was interesting learning about the history of the body farm and Bass's early career, as fe
Mar 19, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok
Shelves: academic-reading
I wanted to like this book a lot because it's by the great Dr. Bill Bass, *the* guy for forensic anthropology. And while it does a good job of covering the basic tools and techniques used in the field, the quality of writing is definitely subpar. There's a lot of redundancy and over-explaining simple concepts, and the overall use of the language is not what I would expect of someone with a Ph.D. Maybe I know more about the subject than the intended audience of this book would, but it seems almos ...more
Mary Drayer
Dec 01, 2015 Mary Drayer rated it really liked it
For all forensic anthropologists out there....This book is for YOU! I did get into how people use DNA, the "body farm", and common sense to find closure for all. A good read.
Jun 25, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
A great read, collecting more of Bill Bass's most interesting stories for our delectation. Every case has something interesting in it, like the crazy rumors circulating about "the day the music died" and how he was able to dispel them all in an afternoon with a portable x-ray machine.
Apr 01, 2012 Scott rated it liked it
(audiobook) I expected more interesting info from this book than I got. If I were taking notes on each chapter and narrative, at best I'd have one line per chapter (for instance: "bones shrink" for one, "temp degrees are cumulative for figuring decomp" for another). The narratives just felt fluffy to me. Maybe because of my medical background, I just wanted more SCIENCE, less down-home anecdotes, but it was just the opposite. Maybe the narrator (audio book) just had too much of slow Southern dra ...more
Katy Jane
Jan 27, 2015 Katy Jane rated it it was amazing
Thoughts on chapter 1: The Golden Bowl, the Burning Palace
1. Looked up Piltdown Man. Crazy.
2. Looked up all of the locations he was talking about to get a grasp of where he was.
3. Looked up jube.
4. B.C: before generator A.G: after generator. Hahaha
5. Looked up jute and learned a lot.
6. Looked up more information on the gold bowl.

Thoughts on chapter 2: Splash Landing, Part 1
1. Looked up Amalgam fillings.
2. Interesting fact about fat deposit behind our eyes and why Holocaust survivors had sunken
May 20, 2016 Jeanne rated it liked it
RFL 2017
Bill Bass delves into his archives for more stories relating to cases he's dealt with as a forensic anthropologist. Reading this book is like sitting with your favourite grandad while he tells you about his life. That is if your grandad spent his life with dead bodies! Although fascinating enough for anyone interested in the forensic sciences, Bass does have a tendency to wander off the chapter subject matter. Forgivable though in this octogenarian as he seems a pretty cool character.
Cindy Smith
Feb 11, 2009 Cindy Smith rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
almost a 3 star, but had too many distractions. the chapters read as if they were written as stand alone articles so there was repetition. also some typos/editing issues? height guessed at 5'10" but calculated to be 6', "one" inch taller than his guesstimate??

the stories were interesting though.
Feb 18, 2010 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction
A good follow up to the first book. A variety of cases are included, giving an interesting glimpse into Bass's experience, expertise and the people and techniques in the field of Forensic science. The fact that not all cases covered are neatly solved also reinforces the reality of the cases described.
Dillan Bideaux
Aug 08, 2016 Dillan Bideaux rated it it was ok
I found this book hard to read though I do not know if it was the content or the fact that I found it not interesting in my opinion. It was though a very educational book and had great information into the tactics and procedures of an anthropologist. It showed that advancements and leaps in the science field that help find closure for families or friends with deceased. Though I was happy when they found the killers in the book and identified the dead it was sad when they could not put a identity ...more
Mar 30, 2009 David rated it it was ok
In which we learn that otherwise unidentifiable corpses can be identified by their teeth! And by this stuff called "DNA"! And there's this new-fangled thing called "radar" that can see under water! And on and on! Who would have guessed?
Emily Carter-Dunn
Mar 28, 2016 Emily Carter-Dunn rated it liked it
I love anything to do with forensics and that is due to me reading Bill Bass' book on the 'Body Farm' in my early teens. Whilst looking for something else to read late in 2015 I decided to read this as the book I had read previously was fascinating.

This book was an interesting read a times and did provide some fascinating cases, such as the explosion at the illegal fireworks factory. I found, though, that this book read less well than his first book. His explanations of software or calculations
William Herschel
Jan 09, 2010 William Herschel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: squeamish interested in forensics or crime, those interested in bones and teeth
Shelves: 2010, nonfiction, science
Forensic anthropology. Bones, bones bones.

The book uses examples from his own career to reinforce facts... good sometimes, but I don't think it worked out all the time though. I read this book wanting to know /facts/ about forensics, not descriptions of locations that seem to go on forever and are rather irrelevant (granted, temperatures are very relevant in forensics-- but that is not what I am referring to).

Anyway, there is some good stuff in here. Specifically, I found the person that got a d
Mar 12, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Melissa
It was okay. It made me realized that like reading forensics books because I like the puzzle solving.

This book could use some editing to clear up a lot of the repetitive rambling and clear Texas-hate this "UT" (Tennessee) professor makes a point of including whenever given the chance. For that reason alone it loses at least half a star, because it left me angry and distracted.

There are some times when he goes off onto side explanations and doesn't make it clear that he's returned to the origin
Mar 15, 2013 Molly rated it it was ok
Each chapter is a new case, explaining how one uses the body to solve crimes. I'm particularly drawn to narratives of the body, especially in the conflicting examination of it as object versus as holder-of-soul, and I do also admit to having a fondness for television shows such as Bones.

The writing is actually what's led me to the 2/5 rating: I assume journalist Jon Jefferson is responsible for this, though I couldn't help but thing William Bass's voice came through. Perhaps Jefferson opted agai
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How'd you like it? 2 19 Dec 11, 2012 10:09PM  
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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...

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“Some scientists thrive on the conceptual; their minds can envision particles that the most powerful microscopes can’t show us; processes that can’t be directly observed, but only inferred, guessed at, by interpreting a stew of complex biochemical by-products. I am not one of these scientists; I need bones and teeth, things I can see with my eyes and grasp with my hands. Jason Eshleman, on the other hand, can see with his mind’s eye, grasping the complex interactions of the most complex molecules in the body, DNA.” 3 likes
“By now it was nearly noon and I was hungry, so we made a quick run to Mr. Burger, a tiny carryout place a mile down the road, and wolfed down lunch standing outside the cemetery shop. We positioned ourselves upwind from the coffin, but occasionally the wind would shift and the aroma of burgers would mingle with the aroma of the Bopper.” 2 likes
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