Reading progress update 1: The Bone Woman by Clea Koff

The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist's Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo - Clea Koff





I've read just under half of this book.  In this first "half", Koff details her experiences as a forensic anthropologist in the two missions she undertook as part of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  Her job was to exhume victims of the genocide in Rwanda and find evidence to bring the perpetrators to trial, as well as help relatives identify their kin. 


This is a memoir detailing the author's experiences (driving around, digging up corpses, team dynamics, social functions), thoughts about everything and anything (her job, the victims, the survivors, the scenery, her co-workers, etc), things to complain about (team work is a bitch!), and emotional reactions, rather than a book that details the scientific aspects of forensic anthropology or this type of field work.  There is some detail on how the field work is organised, but nothing terribly specific.


She starts off the Rwanda section by providing a few sentences on the genocide.  I would have liked this part to be more detailed. I just feel if you are going to write half a book about the people you dug up and their remaining family members, you should write a bit more about why those people were rounded up and slaughtered in churches and stadiums in the first place.  Also, we never  find out (yet) what the end result of all her work was?  How did it help the tribunal?  It helped some of the locals with finding/identifying family, but what about the bigger picture?


It's quite obvious that Koff is doing her dream job (she keeps reminding the reader of this) - she absolutely loves being a forensic anthropologist and keeps letting us know that she was smiling while investigating mass graves.  I find this a bit creepy, but I suppose if it keeps you half-way sane...?


Anyway, the next section deals with her missions as part of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.