This woman, Clea Koff, is a hero I was continuously amazed at her persistence, optimism, discipline, and most of all, her strong stomach At times her positivity seemed to border on naivete, but perhaps because of her naivete she was able to rise above even the most harrowing circumstances She s dug through knee deep mud, surrounded by walls of rotting bodies She s worked in rooms splattered with the blood of the victims she was exhuming But with just her conviction to uncover truths to massive crimes, she s gone back over and over again to the same tragic, desperate work How can she deliberately throw herself into various forms of hell, and still continue to smile about it Just knowing that this kind of person actually exists gives me a lot of insight into my own nature I am too cynical to believe noble virtues such as justice and truths could ever prevent government entities from oppressing and massacring civilians As forensics advance, methods of deception and control would also advance But if everyone thought like me I can see that the world would be worse off The Bone Woman is an amazing memoir I ve learned much about the evils in the world, of greed, hatred and cruelty befitting fiction But I also saw that destruction through the eyes of a resolute optimist, who would so readily suffer for the sake of the dead It was a poetic dichotomy. Actual Rating 3.5 Stars In , Rwanda Was The Scene Of The First Acts Since World War II To Be Legally Defined As Genocide Two Years Later, Clea Koff, A Twenty Three Year Old Forensic Anthropologist, Left The Safe Confines Of A Lab In Berkeley, California, To Serve As One Of Sixteen Scientists Chosen By The United Nations To Unearth The Physical Evidence Of The Rwandan Genocide Over The Next Four Years, Koff S Grueling Investigations Took Her Across Geography Synonymous With Some Of The Worst Crimes Of The Twentieth Century The Bone Woman Is Koff S Unflinching, Riveting Account Of Her Seven UN Missions To Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, And Rwanda, As She Shares What She Saw, How It Affected Her, Who Was Prosecuted Based On Evidence She Found, And What She Learned About The World Yet Even As She Recounts The Hellish Nature Of Her Work And The Heartbreak Of The Survivors, She Imbues Her Story With Purpose, Humanity, And A Sense Of Justice A Tale Of Science In Service Of Human Rights, The Bone Woman Is, Even Profoundly, A Story Of Hope And Enduring Moral Principles Some intereesting passages, but mechanically written The distance that Koff needed to maintain between her job exhuming mass graves and her interior self has been preserved in her writing. The experiences of a forensic anthropologist working for ICTY and ICTR described in a very personal manner I felt strangely relieved seeing thah we had both asked ourselves the same question what if I had been in the middle of all that killing and destruction Still wondering about the answer though Everyone could benefit by reading this book. When you have completed a case and turned in your paperwork, you may still be thinking about it But before that thinking takes you to a place where you realize that this case was just like the one you had before and maybe just like one from Kigali, before you notice that the case file says that your last case was the husband of the old woman being analyzed at the next table, and before you think about that or feel the sadness, you are assigned your next case and the pathologist is in a hurry and wants to get it done before lunch Snap You are saved from thinking and feeling until later, maybe much later, after you have left the mission and you find yourself crying into your pillow twelve thousand kilometers away, a world away, with your hands that touched and your mind that remembers and that elderly husband and wife are still dead, and you know the finality of that and you are left thinking and feeling indefinitely.I loved this one It s so refreshing as a female to read about another woman s experience on the field, especially when it comes to things like feelings, hygiene gasp periods , harassment, and above all dealing with the grief and sometimes straight up denial of family members whose loved ones have been brutally massacred I m not saying it s the norm, but male anthropologists tend to not give those human aspects the relevance they deserve. An excellent book by an extraordinary young woman who has worked in the remains of the human abattoirs around the world Rwanda, Kosovo, Croatia, all needed the services of a team of forensic scientists to figure out the identities of the bodies all decayed, many reduced to piles of bones and to ascertain if those people died as a result of crimes against humanity Koff and her associates had to show how these people had died and to make sure they weren t causalities of civil war or revolutionary uprisings Even though they lived in primitive conditions no running water in Rwanda, cold water for in the taps for two hours per day in Bosnia for example were subject to the strictures of the infamous United Nations bureaucracy and were often in the middle of a hostile population that didn t want them to succeed, Koff and her associates came up with the evidence to try and in most cases convict those who gave the order for mass murder Each chapter is a new deployment to areas containing mass graves Koff begins with a short and even handed account of the massacres and the events just before them and then gets down to the work itself, uncovering human remains work that is both exhausting and painstaking They are scientists digging in the dirt with picks and shovels then brushing away what sticks to the bones with the finest tiny brushes Koff herself has quite a background Her father is English, her mother Tanzanian They are documentary filmmakers who packed up the family Clea and her brother and took them to Africa, the Middle East and South America while they were filming With an undergrad degree from Stanford and graduate study at Arizona, she was asked to take part in the first forensic mission to Rwanda when she was 23 years old She describes how she loses her scientific detachment when she gets what she calls double vision , seeing beyond the skeleton in front of her to the person that it might once have been for example a preteen boy who has been shot in the head One of the most gruesome discoveries in Rwanda happened when they began finding ankle bones with machete slashes When the killers simply had too much work to do too many people to kill they would severe a victim s Achilles tendons so they he couldn t run away and would be there for killing hours or even days later One mass grave in Croatia was full of the staff and patients from a hospital, some of the patients with plaster casts on limbs or with IV needles still in their arms Highly recommended. This is the second time I have read this book a book I found enjoyable both times I read it Many of the reviews have complained it was not professional however this is exactly the thing I enjoyed about it The distancing that can occur to produce self preservation is balanced here by Ms Koff s candor about when those distances are reduced and emotional breakdown occurs I would like to have heard detail about the places they stayed and other members of the crew Learning about the local groups would also have been an improvement but all in all, I enjoyed the book I don t know that I would read it a third time, but will use it as a teaching tool if the need arises. I enjoyed this book, the concept and the facts were very interesting, it seemed like the author just did a lot of complaining about her situation She spent so much time talking about her lack of equipment feuds with co workers that the original stated purpose of hers, bringing awareness to genocides and helping skeletons speak, at times got lost in the background I wish she would have focused on the back stories of the genocides, like she did on the first section of the book It seems like she didn t have as much interest in her numerous cases in Europe as she did in her African case The book tailed off towards the end after a very promising beginning in Rwanda The beginning of the book seemed like it was written with a purpose, the ending sounded like she was satisfying an editors needs by copying parts out of her journal. The Bone Woman is an incredibly well written and poignant book written by the forensic anthropologist Clea Koff The author talks about her work on mass graves in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo as part of UN International Criminal Tribunal investigations. It is hard to describe this book I feel like I have undertaken a very long and exhausting journey Ms Koff described her surroundings so well I feel as if I actually visited hot, leafy forests in Rwanda and cold, grey landscapes in the Balkans There were times when I had to put this book down and simply process the information that I was reading. There is something about the human condition whereby we find it hard to imagine mass murder we find it hard to comprehend the mechanics of taking the life of hundreds of people in one event we find it hard to imagine that these were once people, to put a human face to the atrocity In her book, Clea Koff does this for us she paints a picture whereby the reader is finally able to comprehend and understand.