Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals : The Great Courses: History of Science

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Elizabeth A. Murray
  • Series: The Great Courses: History of Science
  • 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Modern history is filled with terrible crimes, baffling hoaxes, and seedy scandals. The infamous Jack the Ripper slayings. The alleged survival of Anastasia Romanov, the youngest daughter of the murdered Tsar. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's public fall from grace. The Chicago Tylenol poisonings and the copycat crimes that followed.
Step into the world of forensic science and study the most fascinating crimes and mysteries from the last two centuries in the 24 lectures of Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals. Professor Murray, a forensic anthropologist with nearly 30 years of experience in the field, has crafted lectures that are a remarkable blend of storytelling and science - a whirlwind tour that takes you from the gas-lit streets of Victorian London to small-town America. As you journey around the world and into the past, you'll re-examine modern history's great crimes and scandals using the tools and insights of forensic science. In doing so, you'll learn how cutting-edge advancements in science and technology are applied to investigations and how to evaluate evidence and think like a forensic scientist.
Using her extensive background in the field and her skill at weaving riveting stories, Professor Murray invites you peer over the shoulders of investigators as they examine some of the most famous crimes in history, as well as cases that shed light on what happens when the justice system goes awry. Whether they're controversial or by-the-book, solved or unsolved, hot or cold, these cases are an opportunity to gain deeper insight into the historic and cutting-edge methods and tools forensic scientists use on the job. Having participated in hundreds of investigations in America and abroad, Professor Murray intersperses these historical examinations with some of her own, equally intriguing, personal experiences.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I thought this book would be about the little known crimes in forensic history, combined with the added insight of an educator. Instead these are the same old stories that have been "done to death" (pun intended) in a century of written material and decades of shows like "Forensic Files" and "Unsolved Mysteries". It starts out with the most chewed on crime of all - Jack The Ripper. WHO CARES ANYMORE!? Even if investigators found a viable suspect, he or she died a long time ago, thereby avoiding earthly justice.

There are so many other crimes that could have benefited from a in-depth analysis by university professor. Instead she chose criminal events in which she could have done her research and due diligence with her feet up on the sofa, remote control in hand. No need to spend time in now-deserted library stacks when a "Forensic Files' marathon on Netflix or HuluPlus will "get 'er done". This method of classroom teaching is perfect to keep the attention of bored college students, only attending class to receive a barely passing grade. But any real true crime buff will not be satisfied after listening to hours and hours of crimes that we've already seen on television in 4 or 5 different depictions and reenactments. Same old stuff: Black Dahlia, The Brothers Melendez, Anastasia Romanov, the Tylenol poisonings, dirty cops, falsified evidence, police brutality, witness intimidation, coerced confessions, inaccurate eyewitness testimony, shoddy lab work, Russian double agents, etc., etc., etc. BLEH!

Professor Murray has a pleasant speaking voice but the production of the audiobook is not up to par - her frequent stumbles and stutters are not edited out. In the synopsis, we are promised a "look over the shoulder" of on site investigators. Yet we are given no more than we have all learned by watching "Court TV". Aren't we all now as proficient in pathology and forensics as Drs. Michael Baden, Henry Lee, Cyril Wecht, etc.? Nothing new here - PASS on it!
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- Linda Lou "OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!"

Different from many of The Great Courses

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Kudos to Audible for placing this series under the "True Crime" category. That's an unusual place to put one of The Great Courses, but it applies perfectly to this series, which plays out like a true crime detective show.

Don't get me wrong. I love The Great Courses. I'm addicted to The Great Courses. It's just that the buyer should understand that this series is more history than science. Oh, the science is there, but you're learning more about the history of how and when it was developed -- and how that science did (or didn't) play a role in landmark cases -- than you are in the minutia of how the science works.

Any additional comments?

Professor Murray has a folksy style that I found engaging. She has a dry wit, and I suppose that's a requirement given the work that she does. If the idea of hearing about decaying bodies, sexual mutilation, or other grizzly crimes on your daily commute sounds too disgusting, you might want to try a different title.

If this type of history sounds good but you'd prefer something that focused less on murder, then I highly recommend Doctors: The History of Medicine Told Through Biography, also by The Great Courses. Brilliant.

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- Quaker

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-12-2014
  • Publisher: The Great Courses