Monday, November 13, 2006

Unnatural Death

Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner is my latest indulgence in true-crime reading. I picked up this book so quickly that I failed to notice its copyright is 1989. Although there is a 2005 foreword that updates some of the information in the book, the book itself is unchanged. Thus, some of the information presented herein is either outdated or now known to be in error.
The book is a compilation of case histories from Medical Examiner Michael M. Baden, M.D., with co-author, Judith Adler Hennessee. Some of the autopsies Dr. Baden conducted, consulted on or reviewed were of famous people, people as disparate as President Kennedy and John Belushi. He offers information gained through his work, then shows how it proves - - or disproves - - popular beliefs of celebrity deaths. He also writes of other deaths, those of people who were unknown beyond their immediate circles of friends and relations. Included in this book are tales of how Dr. Baden's refusal to play politics affected his career. Until I read this book, it never occurred to me that politics played any role at all in the world of medical examination.
I wish there were another edition of this book, an updated one. That's a drawback in my recommendation. However, I commend both authors for using plain and clear language that conveys information in a way that is easily understood by those of us who have no knowledge of autopsies and medical examining.
Instant gratification may be one reason I enjoyed reading this book. The deceased's physical state was described, and I paused to think about what would cause this or that condition, if it pointed to a certain type of death, what other explanations might be correct, and so on. Then - - presto! - - I had the answers right in my hand, waiting to be read. Another benefit is that the book provides the opportunity to learn and to become a little more informed. I love that.
Written by Moon Rani

No comments: