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All That Remains: A Life in Death

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,054 ratings  ·  279 reviews
Sue Black confronts death every day. As Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology, she focuses on mortal remains in her lab, at burial sites, at scenes of violence, murder and criminal dismemberment, and when investigating mass fatalities due to war, accident or natural disaster. In All that Remains she reveals the many faces of death she has come to know, using key c ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 19th 2018 by Doubleday (first published April 15th 2018)
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4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,054 ratings  ·  279 reviews

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Dec 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
I've read over 100 pages. I've learned all about the author's teenage years working as a Saturday girl in a butcher's shop, about her grandfather's death and her uncle Willie's. And I am bored. Worse, I am totally irritated by the extreme and extended characterisation of death as 'She' whom we should get to know better so we can understand "her". José Saramago did this brilliantly in All the Names where she, Death, was a fully-fledged character and the linchpin of the story. The author has no su ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago I saw that Desert Island Discs was interviewing Sue Black, Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Pathology at the University of Dundee... I read a lot of crime fiction, I've watched Bones and Silent Witness, I knew this was definitely going to be my cup of tea. [I urge you all to listen if you can].

The programme was even more fascinating than I could have imagined and helped me discover more about both the process of identifying human remains
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’m (yet again) finding it difficult to organise my thoughts surrounding this book. It’s an intense, sometimes clinical, portrayal of death in a very pragmatic and scientific way. It’s equal parts cold and without feeling in its descriptions of death, yet also simultaneously deeply emotive and moving. I found that at times I had to step away from it, because although fascinating, I found myself becoming too attached to the cases. I
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's fascinating to read about Sue Black's work. The book is written well which makes most of it interesting to the lay person as well. How I wish she had left it at that. I could have read it with distance and be energised by it. Unfortunately she decided to bring in personal stories, how she experienced the death of her loved ones. I found this painful and upsetting because involuntarily I compared them with my own experiences. At some instant I even wondered if I should read on. I also had di ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading memoirs by people I have never heard of before is something I very much enjoy. The thought that each and every human being on this planet is leading their own life which is unique and distinct from all others is an unfathomable idea and yet so fascinating.

This particular memoir is written by Sue Black who is a Scottish professor of forensic anthropology and anatomy. Through her field of expertise, Sue finds herself confronted with death all the time. In All That Remains, she tells her r
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
As is probably well established by now I love medical nonfiction so I was excited to pick this book up, especially because the publisher compares Black's writing to Caitlin Doughty and Mary Roach. When I think of Doughty and Roach the first word that pops into mind is "funny".

It's unfortunate because while this book is many things, it's not funny.

From the beginning it's clear that Black is not a forensic pathologist, determining causes of death via autopsy, nor an overly science-y person all tog
K.J. Charles
I'm not as blown away as many by this book. The accounts of anatomy and what happens after death are fascinating, and it's an interesting light on how to cope with a job that many people would find horrifying, but it's written in a very chatty way as many of these are--as if transcribed from a long talk in the pub rather than written--so a lot depends on whether the reader finds that endearing or otherwise. Generally I don't, The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London being ...more
Briefly - fascinating, powerful and very well written. Without question this will be one of my best books of the year.

In full
Sue Black (Professor) is probably the country's leading expert in forensic anthropology. In this book she looks at her life in death. This is in part biography and in part an exploration of cases and events she has dealt with. She deals with "remains" - what is left when one of us die. Her expertise has been used in many a varied situations over the year. Murders and unkno
All that Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality, and Solving Crimes

Fearless, except for rodent, I so enjoyed my time listening to Sue Black narrate her book All that Remains. The title for this book is the perfect description of what unfolds. She gives background on the profession and the day-to-day expectations in her various careers, combined with her roles as a mother, grandmother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and mentor.

I truly loved all the different parts of the tell
Ruthy lavin
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This woman is an absolute inspiration!
If you have no aspirations to forensics or anthropology, or indeed anatomy, it matters not - Dame Sue Black is an inspirational person to all.
Driven, ambitious, remarkably stoical, and a wonderful writer, this is a brilliant account and brief introduction to her fascinating life.
It Raises many questions about mortality, science, crime solving and investigation.
Most of all though, it makes you think about life, death, and life after death.
This is an attitude
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book reviews on

All That Remains is an interesting, frank look at death, how this natural but much-feared process is treated by society, and her work as a forensic anthropologist spanning 30 years. I have to say, I never properly thought about the difference between forensic pathologists and forensic anthropologists until I read this this book.

All The Remains is intense and thought-provoking, and though some parts made me feel a little sad at times, and even uncomfortable, I
Black, a world-leading forensic anthropologist, was part of the war crimes investigation in Kosovo and the recovery effort in Thailand after the 2004 tsunami. She is frequently called into trials to give evidence, has advised the U.K. government on disaster preparedness, and is a co-author of the textbook Developmental Juvenile Osteology (2000). Whether working in a butcher’s shop as a teenager or exploring a cadaver for an anatomy class at the University of Aberdeen, she’s always been comfortab ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly interesting read, particularly in tandem with watching episodes of 'History Cold Case' featuring Sue and colleagues. Recommended.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: four-star
An intriguing, often heartbreaking look at the fascinating work of forensic anthropology. As someone thoroughly interested in true crime, I can’t say I have ever given much thought to this area of the investigative process. This book taught me a lot and gave me a new found respect for the work that these professionals do. The amount of knowledge and skill they possess is mind-blowing.

Yes parts of this book are technical and can make for slightly tough reading if you aren’t from a scientific back
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, passionate, and refreshingly frank, Dr. Sue Black’s respect for the dead and complete dedication to her subject is palpable.

At once sobering, bittersweet, funny, and thought-provoking, All That Remains dissects a life and career as a world leader in forensic anthropology. From friendly cadavers called Henry, to private meetings with the prime minister: From crippling rat phobias, to the horrors of war crimes in Kosovo. Each moment is explored with poignant honesty and great sensitiv
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
For fans of Caitlin Doughty, Mary Roach, and CSI shows, a renowned forensic scientist on death and mortality.

Dame Sue Black is an internationally renowned forensic anthropologist and human anatomist. She has lived her life eye to eye with the Grim Reaper, and she writes vividly about it in this book, which is part primer on the basics of identifying human remains, part frank memoir of a woman whose first paying job as a schoolgirl was to apprentice in a butcher shop, and part no-nonsense but dee
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
A very matter of fact book from Sue Black, Forensic Anthropologist. She is a Professor at Dundee University, and an expert in her field. She explains what happens when someone chooses to leave their body to science, which was fascinating and incredibly respectful. It’s made me think about this as an option when I pop my clogs. Sue has also been lead investigator at the scenes of mass fatalities such as the 2004 Tsunami. She also worked on many tours of Kossovo, and the chapter describing her wor ...more
Mommy Reads And Reviews
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this while in bed with stomach flu, which I don’t recommend at all! However I did find this memoir compulsive reading. I really enjoyed reading about Dr Black’s childhood, career and her musings around death. As a therapist I’m fascinated by people’s thoughts and beliefs around death and although this book focussed on the physical she did touch on society’s perception around death which she thoughtfully gave the pronoun ‘she’.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book! Maybe not for the faint hearted, but a fascinating insight into the life and work of a world renowned forensic anthropologist. I was absolutely amazed and the evidence these clever people can ascertain from the remains of a corpse. I can not recommend this book highly enough utterly unputdownable!
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This was such a fascinating book- Sue Black's work and accounts of her experience in her field are just so awe-inspiring.
Kate Yates
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book which I found by accident while shelving books at work. I have just finished a very short online introductory course to forensic facial reconstruction and this has reawakened my interest in old bones and anthropology. This book, although on the whole has had top reviews, has received some criticisms on Good Reads and I think this must be down to it being a very hard book to categorise. For me this is a memoir of a leading forensic anthropologist and anatomist and it ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Professor Dame Sue Black is one of the UK's foremost forensic anthropologists. In this book she recounts personal and professional stories that detail her life dealing with death. Absolutely fascinating.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Sue Black has extensive and varied experience with in-field criminal investigations (including the search for and identification of missing persons, and exhumations in support of prosecuting war crimes in Kosovo), court testimonies, teaching UK police forces about disaster victim identification (a program that the author herself developed). She has even worked with crime fiction authors to raise funds to upgrade an academic mortuary and school of anatomy to become the most state of the ar ...more
Louise Durrant
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting...but also a little boring 😬
Nicki Markus
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
All That Remains was a truly fascinating read. Death is something that is always on my mind. Coupled with old age, it terrifies me, which is probably why I love vampires so much; I'd jump at the chance to stay young and live forever. Anyhow, that preoccupation with death is what made me request Sue Black's book from NetGalley, and I found it intriguing. Professor Black has certainly had an interesting working life, and I was captivated by her tales from her student days and from her more recent ...more
Clarissa Marley
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I was very excited to read this book given that I studied an MSc in Forensic Anthropology and Sue Black is very, very well known in the field. It did not disappoint!
It is very witty and written in a way that really engages you with the field of Forensic Anthropology, without going into too much detail that may discourage readers who perhaps do not know what it is. I very much enjoyed reading about both Sue Black's experiences within the field and also her more personal experiences with death an
Alice Mc
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
A confession... I am a new screaming fangirl of Dame Sue Black. I attended an event in Dundee where she spoke about this book, which is both a memoir of her real life experiences and her own reflections on living and dying. She was awesome , and what a role model.

As one of the UK's top tier of Forensic Anthropologists and Professor of Anatomy, her work is fascinating and she talks and writes about it with such insight, intelligence and straight-forwardness. Given the nature of the job some parts
Babs Green
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting read but not quite what I expected (hence the 3*). I was expecting a more philosophical tome about how as a society we avoid conversations about death. Of course if I’d researched it properly before choosing to read it I would have known that! There’s loads of detail and Prof Black is clearly erudite but perhaps a challenge for the lay reader or maybe just me 😉 One of her observations which I did like was, ‘...if, in striving to stay alive for as long as possible at all costs, all ...more
Soukyan Blackwood
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
all reviews in one place:
night mode reading
skaitom nakties rezimu

About: The book presents a handful of various cases with information on them available in public domains. Sue Black chose these as the most memorable to her, and proceeds telling us about it, of what happened, why it happened if it’s know, what exactly was done, how it was solved, and so on. There’s always this personal touch to every story, vividly painted surroundings, respectful jokes, and tales of adventures. And the cas
David Nelson
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I went into this quite blind based on Emma's recommendation and enjoyed my time with it. My first surprise was that Sue Black is Scottish, which is pretty cool. We're a self-deprecating bunch at the best of times, but it was genuinely fascinating to learn that Black and her team at Dundee seem to be at the absolute forefront of the science worldwide, and not some big shot American like we're culturally trained to assume.

The first third of the book surprised and slightly disappointed me - I guess
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