Bass, Bill 1928- (Jefferson Bass, a joint pseudonym, William M. Bass)
Bass, Bill 1928- (Jefferson Bass, a joint pseudonym, William M. Bass)
Born 1928; married twice (wives died). Education: University of Virginia, B.S.; University of Kentucky, M.S.; University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D., 1961.
Educator, archaeologist, forensic anthropologist, writer. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, anthropologist; University of Kansas, Lawrence, former instructor; Kansas Bureau of Investigation, forensic consultant; University of Tennessee, Knoxville, forensic anthropology department, former professor; forensic consultant. Founder of Anthropology Research Center, "The Body Farm," University of Tennessee. Military service: Served in the U.S. Army.
National Professor of the Year, Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
(With Jon Jefferson) Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.
FICTION; AS JEFFERSON BASS
Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.
Flesh and Bone: A Body Farm Novel, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.
NONFICTION; AS WILLIAM M. BASS
Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual of the Human Skeleton, Missouri Archaeological Society (Columbia, MO), 1971, 5th edition published as Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual, 2005.
(With David R. Evans and Richard L. Jantz) The Leavenworth Site Cemetery: Archaeology and Physical Anthropology, University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1971.
(Author of appendix) Robert W. Neuman, The Sonota Complex and Associated Sites on the Northern Great Plains, Nebraska State Historical Society (Lincoln, NE), 1975.
(Editor) Fay Tolton and the Initial Middle Missouri Variant, College of Arts and Science, University of Missouri-Columbia (Columbia, MO), 1976.
(With Larry Miller and Ramona Miller) Human Evidence in Criminal Justice, Pilgrimage (Cincinnati, OH), 1983, 2nd edition 1985.
Author or coauthor of over two hundred articles in professional journals.
Death's Acre was adapted for audio cassette, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2003.
Writing under his own name and also under the joint pseudonym of Jefferson Bass, renowned forensic anthropologist Bill Bass has collaborated with writer and filmmaker Jon Jefferson on several works of nonfiction and fiction. In the 2003 Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales, Bass and Jefferson tell the story of the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility (a.k.a. the "Body Farm"), which Bass founded in 1981 and about which Jefferson wrote and directed two documentary films for the National Geographic Channel. The Body Farm is a research facility that allows forensic scientists to study and document the decomposition of human bodies in different environments. Bass's credentials as a forensic anthropologist include the standard textbook Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual of the Human Skeleton, as well as consultancy on dozens of homicide cases. Indeed, Death's Acre begins with a summary of Bass's more difficult cases and his ensuing decision to create a facility dedicated to the trickier aspects of forensic science. Subsequent chapters deal with the actual analysis of decomposing corpses on the Body Farm and how this knowledge has helped to solve numerous high-profile criminal cases. Reviewing Death's Acre, a Publishers Weekly contributor found Bass, with the aid of Jefferson, to be a "witty storyteller with a welcome sense of humor." The same reviewer went on to note, "Bass may deal with the dead, but he has a lust for life that comes across in his writing." Similarly, Entertainment Weekly writer Alynda Wheat thought the writing team "uses … folksy humor and extensive knowledge to share the gory details." Theodore Dalrymple, writing in the Spectator, also had praise for the book, observing: "To his credit, … Professor Bass reveals his embarrassments as well as his triumphs." Booklist contributor David Pitt found Death's Acre an "informative book," but not one for the "queasy."
Bass and Jefferson have also collaborated on mystery novels, writing as Jefferson Bass. Their 2006 Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel is the first in a series of forensic mysteries featuring Dr. Bill Brockton in the guise of Bass himself. Brockton works at the University of Tennessee, where Bass himself long worked, and in this first outing he attempts to solve the case of a body found in a cave. Brockton and his team at the Body Farm attempt to identify the remains of a young pregnant woman whose body was long ago left in the cave and subsequently mummified naturally. Once the body is identified, friends and family of the young woman are all involved in the hunt for dark secrets from the past. Carved in Bone earned critical praise from many sources. Writing for Bookreporter.com, Rachel Egelman noted: "The forensic details are the heart of this novel. The science is fascinating and written in a way easy for readers to understand." High praise also came from Houston Chronicle Online critic Steve Weinberg, who called Carved in Bone a "superb mystery." Weinberg further noted that the novel was "well-plotted, filled with memorable characters, based on accurate forensic science and written with more flair and literary sensibility than anything by John Grisham." USA Today contributor Carol Memmott also had positive words for the same work, observing that it "has a unique corpse, solid science, quirky humor and a lovable protagonist." Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews critic thought Carved in Bone was "a neatly-done mystery," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded: "The pacing and action bode well for this crime series." Indeed, Bass and Jefferson have continued the series in their 2007 title, Flesh and Bone: A Body Farm Novel.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bass, Bill, and Jon Jefferson, Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.
Booklist, October 15, 2003, David Pitt, review of Death's Acre, p. 366.
Entertainment Weekly, December 5, 2003, Alynda Wheat, review of Death's Acre, p. 104.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2006, review of Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel, p. 53.
Publishers Weekly, October 13, 2003, review of Death's Acre, p. 69; November 21, 2005, review of Carved in Bone, p. 26.
School Library Journal, March, 2004, Peggy Bercher, review of Death's Acre, p. 252.
Spectator, January 31, 2004, Theodore Dalrymple, "Pioneer in a Peculiar Science," review of Death's Acre, p. 54.
USA Today, February 28, 2006, Carol Memmott, review of Carved in Bone, p. D4.
AllReaders.com,http://www.allreaders.com/ (September 12, 2006), review of Death's Acre.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (September 12, 2006), Rachel Egelman, review of Carved in Bone.
CourtTV Crime Library Web site,http://www.crimelibrary.com/ (September 12, 2006), Katherine Ramsland, "The Body Farm."
CrimeSpreeMag.com,http://www.crimespreemag.com/ (September 12, 2006), review of Carved in Bone.
Daily News-Record Online,http://www.dnronline.com/ (February 23, 2006), Lucy Bednar, "Too Much Fat and Not Enough Meat on This Bone," review of Carved in Bone.
Death's Acre Web site,http://www.deathsacre.com (September 12, 2006).
Houston Chronicle Online,http://www.HoustonChronicle.com/ (February 3, 2006), Steve Weinberg, "Down on the Body Farm," review of Carved in Bone.
Jefferson Bass Home Page,http://www.jeffersonbass.com (September 14, 2006).
Smithsonian Resident Associates Web site,http://residentassociates.org/ (February 23, 2006), Elizabeth A. Davis, "‘Body Farm’ Founder Tries Hand at Fiction."