Irrefutable Evidence: Adventures in the History of Forensic Science
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Irrefutable Evidence: Adventures in the History of Forensic Science

by Michael Kurland
     
 

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The rise of scientific thinking in finding, catching, and convicting criminals—and, just as important, freeing the innocent—has transformed society's assault on crime. Before scientific detective work, early attempts to maintain public safety relied on the severity of punishment rather than any probability of apprehension. But with the rapid development

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Overview

The rise of scientific thinking in finding, catching, and convicting criminals—and, just as important, freeing the innocent—has transformed society's assault on crime. Before scientific detective work, early attempts to maintain public safety relied on the severity of punishment rather than any probability of apprehension. But with the rapid development of the sciences in the nineteenth century, some techniques began to spill over into more effective police work. Michael Kurland's engrossing history of forensic science recounts this remarkable progress, which continues to the present. He traces the history of the major techniques of criminal detection and many of the minor ones. Here are Bertillon's physical measurements used to recognize habitual criminals; the study of fingerprints identifying criminals long after they have left the scene of the crime; Gravelle's comparison microscope comparing bullets to determine if they have been fired from the same gun; the development of bloodstain identification and, ultimately, the blood type involved. Mr. Kurland explains how once–accepted techniques have fallen by the wayside—handwriting analysis, for example—and how methods such as lie detectors, voice spectrum analysis, bite mark evidence, and other methods have proven unworthy. Finally Irrefutable Evidence explores the rise of modern DNA typing techniques, which have proven the innocence of many persons convicted of major crimes and resulted in the exoneration of more than two hundred on death row. With 12 black–and–white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreword Reviews
Forget what you thought you learned from CSI....Turn instead to Irrefutable Evidence.
— Mardi Link
Lawrence Kobilinsky
Irrefutable Evidence by Michael Kurland explores the history of forensic science dating as far back as 475 B.C. in ancient China. He focuses attention on major criminal cases, using them to discuss advancements in crime solving techniques over the past 2500 years. Kurland provides illustrations of the evolution of crime scene investigation, physical evidence analysis and how modern technology is used to help solve criminal cases today. Kurland points out that forensic science must be reliable and based on fundamental scientific principles. He argues that there is a need to improve many forensic disciplines such as ballistics, latent fingerprint analysis, document examination, bitemark and impression evidence analysis up to the level of DNA analysis which is considered to be the gold standard for criminalistics. The history of crime solving comes alive in this extraordinary and exciting survey of forensic science.
Sandy Zabell
Thanks to the new gold standard of DNA, hundreds of innocent people have being exonerated, often after spending years behind bars. Searching the massive databanks of DNA profiles produced nowadays routinely results in ‘cold hits,’ fingering previously unsuspected perps. Fingerprints used to be thought infallible, but a miscall a few years ago by the FBI in the Brandon Mayfield case cost the US government a multi-million dollar settlement. And forensic scientists nowadays aren’t ‘cops in labcoats,’ but often have graduate degrees in biology and chemistry. What’s going on?? Unfortunately learning about this fascinating subject often comes down to a choice between the inaccurate (CSI), the overly technical (textbooks for professionals), and the unsatisfying. Michael Kurland’s Irrefutable Evidence avoids all of these, delivering an engaging, informative and highly readable picture of a field that is revolutionizing modern crime detection.
Mickey Sherman
On any given week, 8 out of the 10 highest rated shows are CSI and Forensic productions. Michael Kurland tells us how we got there and why the public is now and historically has been fascinated by every aspect of Forensic Science and how it has been used or misused over hundreds of years. From Lizzie Borden to the Lindbergh kidnapping to the shabby conviction of Sacco and Vanzetti, we are given the complete history of the use of forensic science without commercial interruption. Unless you are one of the 8 people on this planet who is NOT interested in this subject, READ THIS BOOK!
Foreword Reviews - Mardi Link
Forget what you thought you learned from CSI....Turn instead to Irrefutable Evidence.
ForeWord Reviews
Forget what you thought you learned from CSI....Turn instead to Irrefutable Evidence.
— Mardi Link
Publishers Weekly
Crime novelist Kurland (The Empress of India) takes his cue from the rash of other surveys detailing crime-solving techniques after successful shows like CSI, in an uninspired fashion. He covers the basic techniques of forensics, from fingerprinting and ballistics to blood spatter analysis and DNA. Each of the “founding fathers” gets his due: French ex-criminal-turned-detective Eugène François Vidocq, the inspiration for Poe's fictional Dupin and the first to index criminals; Alphonse Bertillon, another Frenchman and the inventor of anthropometrics (or Bertillonage), which identified criminals by physical measurements; and Edward Henry and Juan Vucetich, who, in the late 19th century, developed independently of each other the first reliable methods of classifying fingerprints. Each breakthrough is punctuated by cases illustrating its usefulness, such as computerized fingerprint databases, which led to the 1989 arrest of “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez. Kurland shifts abruptly between detailed descriptions of techniques and oversimplifications like “DNA is the stuff that people are made from,” which will surely frustrate forensic fans eager for in-depth analysis. Illus. (Nov.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566638036
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
10/16/2009
Pages:
329
Sales rank:
412,151
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Mickey Sherman
"On any given week, 8 out of the 10 highest rated shows are CSI and Forensic productions. Michael Kurland tells us how we got there and why the public is now and historically has been fascinated by every aspect of Forensic Science and how it has been used or misused over hundreds of years. From Lizzie Borden to the Lindbergh kidnapping to the shabby conviction of Sacco and Vanzetti, we are given the complete history of the use of forensic science without commercial interruption. Unless you are one of the 8 people on this planet who is NOT interested in this subject, READ THIS BOOK!"--(Mickey Sherman, criminal defense attorney, TV legal commentator, and author of How Can You Defend Those People?)
Sandy Zabell
"Thanks to the new gold standard of DNA, hundreds of innocent people have being exonerated, often after spending years behind bars. Searching the massive databanks of DNA profiles produced nowadays routinely results in 'cold hits,' fingering previously unsuspected perps. Fingerprints used to be thought infallible, but a miscall a few years ago by the FBI in the Brandon Mayfield case cost the US government a multi-million dollar settlement. And forensic scientists nowadays aren't 'cops in labcoats,' but often have graduate degrees in biology and chemistry. What's going on?? Unfortunately learning about this fascinating subject often comes down to a choice between the inaccurate (CSI), the overly technical (textbooks for professionals), and the unsatisfying. Michael Kurland's Irrefutable Evidence avoids all of these, delivering an engaging, informative and highly readable picture of a field that is revolutionizing modern crime detection."--(Sandy Zabell, professor of statistics and mathematics at Northwestern University and author of Symmetry and its Discontents)
Lawrence Kobilinsky
"Irrefutable Evidence by Michael Kurland explores the history of forensic science dating as far back as 475 B.C. in ancient China. He focuses attention on major criminal cases, using them to discuss advancements in crime solving techniques over the past 2500 years. Kurland provides illustrations of the evolution of crime scene investigation, physical evidence analysis and how modern technology is used to help solve criminal cases today. Kurland points out that forensic science must be reliable and based on fundamental scientific principles. He argues that there is a need to improve many forensic disciplines such as ballistics, latent fingerprint analysis, document examination, bitemark and impression evidence analysis up to the level of DNA analysis which is considered to be the gold standard for criminalistics. The history of crime solving comes alive in this extraordinary and exciting survey of forensic science."--(Lawrence Kobilinsky, professor of forensic science and chair of the department of sciences at John Jay College of Criminal Justice)

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Meet the Author

Michael Kurland is perhaps best known for his "Professor Moriarty" mystery novels; he is an American Book Award nominee and two–time finalist for the Edgar. Mr. Kurland's nonfiction books include How to Solve a Murder and How to Try a Murder as well as A Gallery of Rogues and The Spymaster's Handbook . He lives in Petaluma, California.

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