• 18 Tiny Deaths

  • The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics
  • By: Bruce Goldfarb
  • Narrated by: Nan McNamara
  • Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (117 ratings)

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18 Tiny Deaths  By  cover art

18 Tiny Deaths

By: Bruce Goldfarb
Narrated by: Nan McNamara
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Publisher's summary

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.

©2020 Bruce Goldfarb (P)2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about 18 Tiny Deaths

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another improbable lady giant

Heiress to an International Harvester Fortune, our heroine, a ferociously committed woman,
fiddled away early years looking for a challenge for her formidable intellect. She found her calling in the study and practice of
legal medicine, a field she discovered more or less by accident (no pun intended) She and bankrolled
the study of forensic mediciine, in the face of skepticism and indifference, She is famous for her "nutshell" miniatures of
crime scene that re-created crime scenes. She paid for the scale model death scenes and built many herself.
Born in the second half 19th century, she among the female leaders at the forefront of change that swept the country.
I'd never heard of her. And she's well worth knowing.

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4 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable read, pertinent commentary

Enjoyable read. Excellent story telling. This book is about the life of Frances Glessner Lee, who had a lifelong passion of improving our system of investigating unexplained and sudden deaths. Lee lived a life worthy of a good biography, and the writer doesn’t disappoint. The book is chock full of fascinating stories about the early days of forensic medical science, all told through the view of Lee. There is one particular chapter about her friend, George Burgess Magrath, I believe the first medical examiner of Boston. His story may deserve its own book. He is the archetype of the good medical examiner and with Lee’s guidance, influence, passion, wealth, and sheer will, created the first department for the studies of forensic medicine applied in legal settings at Harvard medical school. Notwithstanding, Harvard’s not so much the good guy in this story, acting the perpetual thorn in the side of Ms Lee and her noble pursuits. Her dioramas called The Nutshell Studies in Unexplained Deaths is a brilliant study aid for objective and detailed awareness training - the death investigator who has the feel in the dark with their eyes.

Highly your recommend this to anyone who likes biographies and detective novels and other the various tv shows like forensic files, or autopsy with Michael Baden.

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3 people found this helpful

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What an amazing woman

The narrator was engaging. She brought Mrs. Lee and her amazing creativity and vision to life. I would be interested to see those diaramas. I did get a little queasy at the description of an autopsy.

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2 people found this helpful

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So much love went into this biography.

It is clear just how fastidiously researched this book is, and written with deep respect.

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I want to be just like FGL!

What an amazing and inspiring life story. This could have been a boring biography book but it was performed and written so well that I feel like I know FGL myself now. So sad to hear the dioramas are not out for public viewing but maybe one day in my lifetime they will be an exhibition again. I’ll take flights to see them if I can. We owe this woman so much. I know her family and legacy must be so proud to descend from such a brilliant and strong woman. And on top of everything, this book was as entertaining as much as it was educational. Fantastic. 5 stars!

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Awsome historical book

So sad Boston and HARVARD gave her the brush off. Make for some killer local history. Not that we don’t have enough of that. But this woman kicked ass !!

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Endless and dull

I have tried to finish this for months. Truly cannot get through it. The details & science are full. Reliving every minute detail is killing the story. I appreciate the historical significance, but why can’t there be a point in the story that they get to?

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Fascinating history of forensics!

This was a well-written biography of a woman I had never previously heard mentioned, but now wish thst I could have known her! The work she started natters - and there is stoll so far to go! I find jyself praying that God wouod send along another wealthy person with such passion for justice, to continue the great work the Ms. Lee started!

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Great book!!

I knew somewhat about this story but the book gave a lot more information. It was a great audiobook.

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