Broken Bones: Anthropological Analysis of Blunt Force Trauma

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9780398087685: Broken Bones: Anthropological Analysis of Blunt Force Trauma
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The editors, along with 15 outstanding contributors, comprehensively explore and provide an overview of the principles behind the interpretation of skeletal blunt force trauma. This expanded second edition provides a discussion on how to train for a career in forensic anthropology and offers guidance on how to complete a thorough trauma analysis. It also provides the labels given to different kinds of fractures and the biomechanical forces required to cause bone to fail and fracture. The text provides a theoretical framework for both evaluating published trauma studies and designing new ones. Experimental trauma research is an area ripe for research, and criteria to consider in choosing which non-human species to use in an actualistic study are offered. Common circumstances in which blunt force trauma is encountered are described. Information is provided on a variety of causes of death due to blunt force trauma. These causes range from accidental deaths to homicides due to blunt force from motor vehicle accidents, falls, strangulation, child and elder abuse, among others. Epidemiological information on whom is most likely affected by these various kinds of blunt force trauma is drawn from both the clinical and forensic literature. The most fundamental elements of the text are offered in four chapters where, bone by bone, fracture by fracture, the authors describe what to call each kind of fracture, what is known about how much force is required to break the bone that way, and fracture specific epidemiological information. This particular section of the text provides an invaluable reference source for forensic anthropologists and other osteologists to consult when looking at and trying to classify a bone fracture. Case studies are included to bring the book full circle back to considering the micro and macro bone changes that are seen when bone fails and fractures. The case studies are illustrative both of the concepts described through the book and of the high quality analyses forensic anthropologists contribute to medicolegal investigations of death every day. The text is further enhanced by 150 illustrations, some in color. This completely updated and expanded new volume is an essential reference for the forensic anthropology professional.

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Broken Bones: Anthropological Analysis of Blunt Force Trauma, Second Edition. Vicki L. Wedel and Alison Galloway, eds. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 2014, 504 pp, $64.95, cloth.

The first edition of Broken Bones, edited by Alison Galloway, was a classic contribution to the study of blunt force skeletal trauma in the forensic context. Published in 1999, it represented the state of the field at the time and included a useful section of case studies written by forensic anthropologists, pathologists, and an odontologist. The new edition, edited by Vicki Wedel and Alison Galloway, is a significantly expanded and updated book that reflects a number of advances in the field since publication of the first edition. In many ways it is a new book, with a new set of case study contributors (Alison Galloway is the only exception, as a second author on one case study) and an extensive reworking of introductory chapters (Section I). New or significantly expanded topics include preparing for a career in forensic anthropology; field recovery methods; differentiating antemortem, perimortem, and postmortem fractures; common causes of blunt force trauma; and a new chapter reviewing experimental trauma studies and their applicability to forensic anthropology. The core structure of the first edition is retained in Section II (Chapters 8-11), which provides a detailed survey of fracture patterns in different parts of the skeleton. These chapters have been updated and expanded from the first edition but retain their basic regional approach to fracture types and morphology.
The nine case studies in the second edition are all new and represent a good mix of the challenges of identifying and interpreting blunt force trauma in the medicolegal context, with particular focus on the contributions of forensic anthropologists to such cases, Topics that are new to the second edition include identifying child abuse (Love), intimate partner violence (Juarez and Hughes), techniques for facial reconstructions in cases of fragmented and incomplete remains (Nusse), and the challenges of interpreting rib fractures (Zephro and Galloway; Love, Hines, and Wilson). Other case studies focus on interpreting the context and possible cause of death in skeletonized and fresh body cases (Crowder and Adams; Black, Smyth, Bentley, Erolin and Randolph-Quinney) and the value of both antemortem and periomortem trauma for victim identification and death investigation (Hart; Haugen). Case studies such as those in the first and second editions of Broken Bones are important in highlighting real world challenges faced by forensic investigators, and for documenting the way in which complex cases can be approached and (ideally) resolved. The limitations of skeletal analysis for reconstructing trauma and cause of death are duly noted in these case studies, but all emphasize the contributions that forensic anthropologists can make to interpreting difficult cases.
Strengths of the second edition of Broken Bones include extensively updated references and the coverage of new research areas in blunt force trauma analysis. The illustrations are of consistently high quality and serve as useful visual guides to fracture types and patterns. There are some minor problems with typos and occasionally unclear writing, but these are minor distractions in an otherwise well-written and well-organized volume. This book will be an important and useful reference for anyone approaching blunt force trauma analysis, whether a student or a practicing forensic anthropologist. To those in other forensic sciences, the volume is valuable for demonstrating the important contributions that a careful analysis of skeletal trauma can provide to medicolegal death investigators. --John W. Verano/ Journal of Anthropological Research/ vol. 71/ 2015

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