Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist

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Doubleday, 1995 - Medical - 292 pages
3 Reviews
From a skeleton, a skull, a mere fragment of burnt thighbone, Dr. WilliamMaples can deduce the age, gender, and ethnicity of a murder victim, the mannerin which the person was dispatched, and, ultimately, the identity of thekiller. In "Dead Men Do Tell Tales," Dr. Maples revisits his strangest, most interesting, and most horrific investigations, from the baffling cases of conquistador Francisco Pizarro and Vietnam MIAs to the mysterious deaths of President Zachary Taylor and the family of Czar Nicholas II.

"When he's not shattering myths about maggots, Dr. Maples is delightfully unraveling true murder mysteries, ancient and modern. He's not just another clever forensic detective -- he's a poet, a philosopher, and a sly commentator on the fractured human condition, pre-and post-mortem."
-- Carl Hiaasen, author of "Strip Tease" and "Native Tongue"

"Whether Maples' subjects are famous or anonymous, it is how he tells their stories that makes this book so fascinating and -- in its fashion --delightful."
--Jonathan Yardley, "Washington Post Book World"

"William R. Maples and Michael Browning could've written a dry clinical analysis of forensic anthropology; instead they tell tales better than the dead could for themselves."
-- "New York Times Book Review"

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Reviewed Sept 1998
I had meant to purchase/read this book on many occasions, but for some reason I held off. Finally after seeing it used as a textbook at Hartnell and read several reviews on I decided to send for it. And I'm glad I finally did. Maples is a very entertaining writer, he makes you think your reading a unique mystery. On many occasions I did have to stop and say "ewwwwww." His descriptions of the gore of death are meant for the strong stomached He has been able to handle the bones of some very famous people...Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man), Tsar Nicholas II and his family, President Taylor and conquerer of Peru Don Francisco Pizarro.
in Males last pages he acknowledges that forensic anthropology is a very demanding and difficult profession, he hopes that the many students interested in pursuing this avenue will find classes available and people to hire them after graduation. Sadly he feels this to be the greatest challenge.
Maples gives a lot more information than someone like me could be interested in, but if I needed to gather the information for research, his book would be certainly an excellent source. I would like to see more books by people discussing their careers as much of real life IS interesting.


Every Day Is Halloween
Talkative Skulls
Bolts of Bones

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About the author (1995)

Until his death in February 1997, Dr. William R. Maples was distinguished service professor and curator-in-charge of the C. A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida. He was president of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. A scholarship fund has been established in his honor. After his death, his students painted a large tribute on a memorial wall at the University of Florida, saying simply: “We have stood on the shoulders of a giant.”
Michael Browning was East Asia correspondent for Knight-Ridder Newspapers from 1983–1992. He now works for the Palm Beach Post and lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

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