Shevonne's Reviews > The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum
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Sep 23, 11

bookshelves: favoritebooksofalltime
Read from July 19 to September 23, 2011 — I own a copy

When I entered Barnes & Noble, and picked up this book cause of the book cover, I didn’t know it would turn out to be one of my favorite books of all time. For someone who is always watching forensic shows, I must admit that I didn’t know much about the history of it. This book details the work of forensic forefathers Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler. If it weren’t for them, forensic science and autopsy best practices wouldn’t be what they are now.

I thought it was clever of Blum to title each chapter a poison. She did a great job of giving us scientific information of the poison, an important case pertaining to that poison, and the groundbreaking work that Norris, Gettler, and their team did to set standards to test, analyze, and detect the poison that are even being used today.

The work they did with alcohol in the Prohibition era was my favorite to read about. Being someone who is working to bring awareness to binge drinking and alcohol poisoning, I really learned a lot on what alcohol poisoning does to the body and what happened in this country when it was outlawed. The amount of people who died of alcohol poisoning during this time was shocking. Some of them were drinking practically 100% alcohol with no distillation. It kind of made me sick to my stomach to hear about that.

This is definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in forensics and/or watches all of those CSIs shows (how many are there now? Like ten?).
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Reading Progress

09/20/2011 page 182
54.0% "I love this book so far. It really teaches you about how forensic science evolved in this country"

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Erik (new)

Erik I think you're so brave, Shevonne! Reading this book must really touch some raw nerves for you. Keep up the great campaign, it's such a necessary signal to send out about the dangers of over-drinking. My son has just been warned that he may have liver damage through binge drinking and I just hope he heeds the warning message before it is too late.


Shevonne Erik, I'm so sorry to hear about your son. I hope that he stops drinking before he does anymore damage to his body. It isn't worth it.


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