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

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  9,554 ratings  ·  580 reviews
Dr. Bill Bass, one of the world's leading forensic anthropologists, gained international attention when he built a forensic lab like no other: The Body Farm. Now, this master scientist unlocks the gates of his lab to reveal his most intriguing cases-and to revisit the Lindbergh kidnapping and murder, fifty years after the fact.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 5th 2004 by Berkley (first published October 27th 2003)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,554 ratings  ·  580 reviews


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Shovelmonkey1
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Becky
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 --
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Val
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a fascinating book to read! I learned a lot (A LOT!) about what happens to the human body when a person dies. What a journey Dr. Bass had, leading up to the creation of the body farm. He shared many different cases and some were truly heart wrenching to read. He also shared anecdotes about his life, leaving me smiling and chuckling quite often.

I think one of the things I admired the most was how respectful Dr. Bass was of every body he examined. I loved how he grasped any and every opportu
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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
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Jim
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. She has a chapter on the body farm & does a wonderful job, too.
Julia
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in true-crime, forensic and anthropological science,
This book is based on the University of Tennessee's Anthropological Research Facility, aka "The Body Farm". The 1st facility of it's kind, The Body Farm researches the decomposition process of the human body in varied controlled settings. Results in these studies have helped federal and local law enforcement solve murders and missing persons cases.

The author, who joined UofT's anthropology department in 1971 and founded the original Body Farm in 1981, injects a nice balance of humor to off-set t
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Melissa Chung
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I can’t remember if my friend Keely bought me this book or I bought it myself because she loved it so much. With that being said, I want to thank my friend Keely for making me read this book. It’s an amazing piece of non-fiction that I highly recommend reading.

On the front cover of the book it says foreword by Patricia Cornwell. A relative told me in college, “if you like crime books you have to read Patricia Cornwell”. I picked up her first book of the Scarpetta series and was hooked. I was hap
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Sarah
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
Diane in Australia
4 Stars = Outstanding. It definitely held my interest.
Wheeler
Mar 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
“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
...more
Richard
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Update Spring 2019: The New York Times just presented a good, short news story on this: My Afterlife on the Body Farm which also links to several other sources of information. One of them is available on YouTube, from the BBC series Stephen Fry in America, episode two on the Deep South. A longer one is a 45-minute documentary (with overly dramatic audio), and a link to a television news report.

                      ☠  ☠  ☠

I'd heard about this fellow's work from several directions before I ever
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Matt
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Lori Summers
Apr 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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Trevor
Dec 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This is a book that was ghosted, or the guy who wrote it was helped to write it by some other guy. The danger with this is that you don't know if the guy who is helping you to write your book can write. This book could have done with someone with a cringe detector reading over it first and saying to both of them - "look, no, just no".

Otherwise it is a fascinating book. I loved the story of the Civil War grave and the recent body found in it. I loved most of the stories in the book and given the
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Keilani Ludlow
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Sarah Louise Leach
Apr 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Leah Clifford
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting read!
Gretchen
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Brian
Mar 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: grbpp
(3.5) Interesting, though reminds me of concerns about accuracy

These forensic anthropologists (much like many coroners) become experts and then assume they can determine facts with near certainty when they can't possibly consistently. I do appreciate Bass making as much of a science out of this field as possible, so he may be among the best, but there's danger in accepting the data they return.

I appreciate Bass' frankness about his mistakes. He really owns up to them, at times pokes a bit of fun
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Lindsay
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was awesome.

I have been a long time "fan" of the body farm & my first time in college my major was forensics. So I finally got around to reading it once I saw it was on my library's ebook system. SO GOOD.

Dr Bass' way of storytelling is so engaging and well written that I would almost recommend it to anyone if they could stomach some of the descriptions. I found it to be an easy read, although I couldn't eat while reading it, that was my limit. Each chapter could have easily been
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patrycja polczyk
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sara Dee
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
finally finished. I had about 20 pages left and just kept putting it off...but! I got Beyond the Bodyfarm so I felt compelled to finish this one!

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned a lot, especially from the appendices. I loved Dr Bass' punny humor. The cases were all interesting and mostly all of them we're new to me. I'm excited to see what new ones he brings in the next book.

The thing that kept me from giving it 5 stars was that there was a lot of repetition. Almost like each case was written
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Claudia Loureiro
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead-and-dying
This book is really about the career of forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass not a detailed account of the inner workings of the Body Farm as the title of the book would indicate.
I found it quite well done, not overly technical, and an absolutely macabre subject presented with a good sense of humor to lighten it. Fascinating to read about the progression of forensic anthropology from the '50's to the present.
"Death's Acre" is a compelling story that capably blends science, history, personal acc
...more
Meredith
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a truly amazing book, full of anecdotes about forensic anthropology by a man who practically invented the science. It was striking to read about advances in a modern field where all the work is original and new. The situations and crimes described are so weird and chilling that this book ought to be horrifying, but the author writes with calm sensitivity, citing the cases as clinical examples and emphasizing the truly important work done to solve these mysteries.
julianne
I'm giving it a star as it made me sleep at 4am today when I was having a bout of insomnia.
Krista
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Part true-crime anecdotes, part memoir, Death's Acre is a macabre delight if (like me) you are the sort of person who gets a twisted sort of pleasure reading about crazy murders and how forensics teams solve them.
The book wasn't quite what I was expecting, because it's billed as an examination of the Body Farm, a research facility in Tennessee where experiments are preformed concerning how human bodies decay. And while the book does talk about origins of the Body Farm and discusses s
...more
Robert
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since reading about The Body Farm in Mary Roach’s amazing first book, Stiff, I’ve wanted to know more about how Dr. Bass ended up orchestrating an outdoor Wunderkammer of cadavers. That part of my life is now complete.

The book is full of great lines like the following one from when he first met crime novelist Patricia Cornwell at a training seminar for the medical examiner’s office where she worked, “As usual, I was showing slides of maggot-covered bodies.” He later did a commissioned exper
...more
Hauna
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-2018
*IF* the subject matter of this book doesn’t make you squeamish, then this a must-read on forensic anthropology. It is a fascinating look into the mind and research of one of the best. I have gained an even greater respect for Dr. Bass and others like him who have dedicated their careers to the fight for justice for victims of tragedy. He tells these stories with consideration and respect for the victims and their families and a little humor to keep it light(er). Riveting.

Rock Chalk, Dr. Bass!
Shaun
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. A great introduction to the real world of forensic science. Death's Acre details the life and career of Dr. Bill Bass, founder of the famous Body Farm, a facility where the decomposition of dead bodies to provide data that will assist police officers and investigators in solving murders.
viquito
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I can't give people back their loved ones. I can't restore their happiness or innocence, can't give back their lives the way they were. But I can give them the truth. Then they will be free to grieve for the dead, and then free to start living again. Truth like that can be a humbling and sacred gift for a sciencist to give."
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Jon Jefferson
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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
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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. ” 20 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.” 13 likes
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