A book y’all might want to check out

I belong to the book organizer/social networking site Librarything and participate in their Early Reviewers program, where they give you free books, often before they’re published for the masses, in exchange for posting a review. My latest free book (which comes out in a few days), was Bosnia’s Million Bones: Solving the World’s Greatest Forensic Puzzle by Christian Jennings.

For those interested in the forensic side of missing persons, I’d recommend this book. Tens of thousands of people vanished during the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in the mid-nineties, and turned up in mass graves. The book is mostly about a group set up to identify them, the International Commission on Missing Persons. It reminds me quite a lot of NamUs: they approached the relatives of the missing, collected DNA samples, collected DNA from the graves, and set about doing comparisons. The book also discusses why it was so important for the families and the country in general to identify these bodies, even though the people knew their missing relatives were dead — something that certainly rings true with Charley Project type cases. Here’s the relevant part of my review:

A sort of combination true crime and science book, this is the story of attempts to identify the thousands of people who disappeared in the genocide in the former Yugoslavia. Employing Bosnian scientists and using DNA testing that was groundbreaking at the time, the International Commission on Missing Persons was successful at identifying loads of people, in spite of the fact that many of the bodies had been dismembered and buried in separate mass graves. (The same techniques would be used at the sites of 9/11, the Indian tsunami, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and more.) The book also covers the activism on the part of survivors of the genocide, and the manhunt for those responsible.

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