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All That Remains: A Life in Death by…

All That Remains: A Life in Death (2018)

by Professor Sue Black (author)

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1077173,551 (4.67)12
Book of the Year, 2018 Saltire Literary Awards For fans of Caitlin Doughty, Mary Roach, and CSI shows, a renowned forensic scientist [expounds] 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 deeply humane introduction to the reality of death in our lives. It is a treat for CSI junkies, murder mystery and thriller readers, and anyone seeking a clear-eyed guide to a subject that touches us all. Cutting through hype, romanticism, and cliche, she recounts her first dissection; her own first acquaintance with a loved one's death; the mortal remains in her lab and at burial sites as well as scenes of violence, murder, and criminal dismemberment; and about investigating mass fatalities due to war, accident, or natural disaster, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. She uses key cases to reveal how forensic science has developed and what her work has taught her about human nature. Acclaimed by bestselling crime writers and fellow scientists alike, All That Remains is neither sad nor macabre. While Professor Black tells of tragedy, she also infuses her stories with a wicked sense of humor and much common sense.… (more)



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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This is an amazing book; part memoir, part science, and by one of the UK’s most celebrated professionals in the forensic anthropology field. Sue Black is a brilliant, respectful, and generally cheerful sort of person—the perfect mix in a person who writes a very accessible book on what could be an extremely morbid subject. She provides a fascinating discussion of what we are made up of, and discusses death and dying with great honesty and common sense. She shares with us about the deaths—the kind of deaths—of several of her family members (and their responses to each of them) before moving into mesmerizing chapters on all manner of fascinating forensic cases. The most difficult chapter to read is one on her work in Kosovo around war crimes. She describes the work, some of the complications and difficulties they encountered, and how the professionals get through that kind of grim work. Finally, Black discusses forensic cases around large scale disasters before concluding.

I put off attempting to write a review of this riveting and completely absorbing book for quite a while. I didn’t feel up to the task, and still don’t feel I’ve done it justice. Sure, parts of it is grim, but Black’s telling is so respectful and professional, so down-to-earth. I learned much from this book and, as said by someone elsewhere: for a book largely about death is it amazingly life-affirming. This could very well end up my book of the year (and it’s only early June!) ( )
1 vote avaland | Jun 5, 2019 |
Continually interesting book, as forensic anthropologist Sue Black looks at death in all its forms. She recalls how she got started...from a Saturday job in a butcher's shop and on to her first experience in the dissection lab. She recalls criminal cases she's worked on, her involvement in identifying bodies in Kosovo and tsunami-ravaged Thailand; she talks about different ways of disposing of the dead, looks at the latest developments in embalming, and considers her own thoughts on death as she moves towards old age. This could have been a dull scientific tome, but it's so alive with the author's own personality. Fascinating throughout. ( )
  starbox | May 4, 2019 |
This book strikes a nice balance between the often tragic and cruel ways that humans meet their maker and yet throughout the book you have Professor Sue Black guiding you through it, providing insight, humanity and showing great respect and reverence for the dead people she encounters. Professor Black uses her own family history with death to add balance to the professional aspects of her life to great effect with a down to earth no nonsense approach that makes this book all the more remarkable. ( )
1 vote prichardson | Mar 27, 2019 |
Sue Black, profess or Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology, has written an accessible book on death, primarily violent death. It is well-written in a manor to not be off-putting to most readers. It’s as if she’s sitting with a small group of people and is having a chat with us about death. She does occasionally dip into moralizing, but when you spend your life dealing with with what she does on a daily basis, perhaps she’s entitled to moralize a bit. It may surprise some that she talks about death as a woman and uses the feminine pronouns to do so – think in terms of the film “All That Jazz” where the main character (played by Roy Schneider) and based on Bob Fosse) talks about Death (played by Jessica Lange) as a beautiful blond woman with whom he flirts.

All in all a very interesting book first published in 2018 and now being reissued. ( )
  OldFriend | Feb 21, 2019 |
Death. It isn’t something that any of us like to think about, is it? However, the one certainty of being alive is that, one day, we won’t be. The funny thing is that nowadays, with all the medical and clinical advances of the modern world, we’re more divorced from death than we have ever been; and we fear it more than ever before. I’m in my early thirties and the only dead bodies I’ve ever seen are in museums. I have never been with one of my relatives when they’ve died, nor visited them in a chapel of rest (the result of living a long way away from the rest of my family). And I feel that something is missing, somehow. Not that I want to be ghoulish, but I do want to understand what and how things change at that final threshold. Hence the attraction of this book, written by Sue Black, an anatomist and forensic anthropologist at Dundee University. Black combines dazzling distinctions (she’s a Professor and a Dame) with refreshing down-to-earth Scots candour, and her remarkable book is part memoir, part treatise on death....

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2019/01/16/all-that-remains-sue-black/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Jan 16, 2019 |
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For Tom, for ever my love and my life. And for Beth, Grace and Anna - each is my favourite daughter. Thank you for making every moment of my life worthwhile.
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Death and the hyped-up circus that surrounds her are perhps more laden with cliches than almost any other aspect pf human existence.
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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. Here she reveals the many faces of death she has come to know, using key cases to explore how forensic science has developed, and examining what her life and work has taught her.
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