Bruce Goldfarb – 18 Tiny Deaths

The story of a woman whose ambition and accomplishments far exceeded the expectations of her time, 18 Tiny Deaths follows the transformation of a young, wealthy socialite into the mother of modern forensics….

Frances Glessner Lee, born a socialite to a wealthy and influential Chicago family in the 1870s, was never meant to have a career, let alone one steeped in death and depravity.

Yet she developed a fascination with the investigation of violent crimes and made it her life’s work. Best known for creating the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a series of dollhouses that appear charming – until you notice the macabre little details: an overturned chair, or a blood-spattered comforter. And then, of course, there are the bodies – splayed out on the floor, draped over chairs – clothed in garments that Lee lovingly knit with sewing pins.

18 Tiny Deaths, by official biographer Bruce Goldfarb, delves into Lee’s journey from grandmother without a college degree to leading the scientific investigation of unexpected death out of the dark confines of centuries-old techniques and into the light of the modern day.

Lee developed a system that used the Nutshells dioramas to train law enforcement officers to investigate violent crimes, and her methods are still used today.

18 Tiny Deaths transports the listener back in time and tells the story of how one woman, who should never have even been allowed into the classrooms she ended up teaching in, changed the face of science forever.

Author: Bruce Goldfarb
Narrator: Nan McNamara
Duration: 8 hours 35 minutes
Released: 20 Apr 2002
Publisher: Recorded Books
Language: English

User Review:

trench horrible

This is a good book about a scientist who truly changed the world, Enrico Fermi. Sometimes called the father of the atomic age, he rose from a stable middle class environment in Rome–not a real hotbed of science at the time–to become one of the world’s great physicists. This book presents a comprehensive treatment of his relatively short life (he died at 53).

This is a book that can be read a multiple levels. There is a certain level of science in it, but it would probably be overly simplistic for those who have studied physics. There are parts of it that are challenging for a non-scientist such as myself to follow in detail, but the author is really good at explaining the gist of why certain events are important. The story moves well and does not get bogged down, even though it is rather lengthy.

The book provides a very good study of the man. Fermi comes across as an outstanding colleague, particularly in his later years. He had many friends and admirers. He did not just plant himself in his laboratory. He insisted on having lunch (apparently for about two hours) each day with colleagues. He liked to hike and swim. He was quite athletic. He was a good husband, perhaps not as good a father, but rather typical for his time.

I think the book provides a good–and sympathetic–treatment of Fermi and the scientists who were involved in the Manhattan Project. It is extremely easy to criticize them from the space of nearly 80 years. It must be remembered that most of the scientists had immigrated from a Europe dominated by Nazi Germany. Many had worked at German universities. Germany was the epicenter of physics in the 1930s. So they had personal knowledge of the abilities of German scientists, and considerable concern about them developing an atomic bomb. Einstein himself signed a letter to Roosevelt that led to the start of the project. The book covers all of this in great detail, and allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

The narration is very good. Definitely worth your time if you have any interest in the subject.