Sunday, January 31, 2010

CBR Book#22: Teasing Secrets From the Dead by Emily Craig, Ph.D.

Emily Craig began her career as a medical illustrator. After dating a police officer, Craig became interested in forensics and crime scene investigations. She was able to assist in a facial reconstruction through her skill in sculpture. This got her interested in pursuing a new career as a forensic anthropologist and began attending University of Tennessee with the famed Dr. Bill Bass. After completing her education, Craig became the full-time forensic anthropologist for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Dr. Craig has been involved in identifying bones from human remains in such high profile cases as Branch Davidians in Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the World Trade Center after September 11th. She has also had hundreds of thousands of cases in her capacity as forensic anthropologist for Kentucky. You would think that all of this would make for an interesting book. You would be sorely mistaken, friend. SORELY.

Craig is not much of a writer. She begins with the telling of a story and then weaves out of it and toward a thread of another case. She then moves into explaining some of her training. Then Craig returns to the case that you've forgotten all about and lost any interest in. Craig also has a horrible habit of repeating herself throughout the book and sometimes within one page. These habits make for distractions too large to overlook.

Craig also spends a lot of time focusing on what is, for me, the wrong thing to focus on. She makes it seem as though she is constantly confronted with sexism and ageism while in the field when her stories paint another picture. It seems that Craig doesn't want anyone to forget that she is a woman and that she finished college for her second career while in her mid-forties. Whoopty doo, y'all.

I wanted to hear about forensic anthropology and how it can be used to identify remains that have decomposed to bones. Some background on education for this career would have been welcome if told in a different way. Instead of getting what I wanted from this book, I get the idea that Craig finds herself more important than her work.

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