Friday, January 9, 2015

Lessons From the Dead: Funeral Practices and Forensic Science

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
~Mark Twain

We first heard of Caitlin Doughty through her webseries "Ask a Mortician", which answers questions about pet death, Viking funerals, traditional or natural burials, and more - everything about a mortician's trade you might be curious about, but afraid to ask, presented in a fashion that might just make you laugh out loud. Her new book, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, is a New York Times Bestseller. As Doughty says, "Accepting your own mortality is like eating your vegetables: You may not want to do it, but it's good for you."*

We've written on abcreads before about mortality, but we thought now might be a good time to revisit the topic. For the mystery buffs, we've included a section about forensic science.

Funeral Practices

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Freezing People Is (Not) Easy: My Adventures in Cryonics by Bob Nelson, with Kenneth Bly and Sally Magaña, PhD

Forensic Science

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek, MD and T.J. Mitchell

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell

Silent Witnesses: The Often Gruesome But Always Fascinating History of Forensic Science by Nigel McCrery

Murder on the Home Front: A True Story of Morgues, Murderers, and Mysteries During the London Blitz by Molly Lefebure

The Poisoner's Handbook: Killer Chemistry [DVD]

Bosnia's Million Bones: Solving the World's Greatest Forensic Puzzle by Christian Jennings.

The Inheritor's Powder: A Tale of Arsenic, Murder, and the New Forensic Science by Sandra Hempel


11 fascinating funeral traditions from around the globe [TEDBlog]

12 Strange Funerals and Funeral Traditions [Mental Floss]

What Do Forensic Scientists Do? [American Academy of Forensic Sciences]

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Forensic Science Technicians [U.S. Department of Labor]

The CSI Effect [The New Yorker]

A Cheerful Mortician Tackles the Lighter Side of Death [NPR]*

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