Using the most common post-mortem process as the backbone of the narrative, The Chick and the Dead takes the reader through the process of an autopsy while also describing the history and changing cultures of our relationship with the dead. The book is full of vivid insight into what happens to our bodies in the end. Each chapter considers an aspect of an autopsy alongside an aspect of Carla’s own life and work and touches on some of the more controversial aspects of our feelings towards death, including the relationship between sex and death and our attitudes toward human tissue collection.
Starting with the first cut, we move from external examination into the body itself, discovering more about the heart, stomach and brain, and into dismembered and reconstructed bodies, at each stage taking a colorful detour into the question of what these things can teach us about the living. Join Carla on the journey from microscope-requesting nine-year-old to pathology educator and death engager at a Victorian museum (a journey made via around 5,000 autopsies) as she tells the story of exactly what it’s like to live a life immersed in death.
The first chapter of this book is dedicated to the evolution of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner over the last 20 years, its transformation to one of the largest and best in the world. This tale is presented throughout the prism of the authors individual experiences and closely intertwined with her professional life. It lays the foundation for the following 25 chapters of challenging cases from the authors personal experience. Many of them include captivating stories of homicide investigation with court testimonies. The truth, however, is that the crime related deaths cover fewer than 15% of all cases performed by medical examiners. This book brings up and creates public awareness of many important issues beyond the traditional topic of homicides, among them drug intoxication death, child negligence and abuse, sudden death of young people, misdiagnosis, prophylactics of sudden infant death.
Beginning with his street-smart Italian origins in Brooklyn, the book spans 40 years of work and more than 9,000 autopsies, and DiMaio's eventual rise into the pantheon of forensic scientists. One of the country's most methodical and intuitive criminal pathologists will dissect himself, maintaining a nearly continuous flow of suspenseful stories, revealing anecdotes, and enough macabre insider details to rivet the most fervent crime fans.
For fifteen years, Shiya Ribowsky worked as a medicolegal investigator in New York City’s medical examiner’s office—the largest, most sophisticated organization of its kind in the world. Utilizing his background in medicine, he led the investigations of more than eight thousand individual deaths, becoming a key figure in some of New York’s most bizarre death cases and eventually taking charge of the largest forensic investigation ever attempted: identifying the dead in the aftermath of the September 11 tragedies.
Now, in this mesmerizing book, Ribowsky pulls back the curtain on the New York City’s medical examiner’s office, giving an enthralling, never-before-seen glimpse into death and the city. Born and raised in New York City’s orthodox Jewish community, Ribowsky seems an unlikely candidate for this macabre profession. Nevertheless he has forsaken a promising career of medical work with the living, descending instead into the realm of the dead, enticed by the challenge of confronting death on a daily basis. Taking you through the vermin-infested Bowery flophouses and posh Upper East Side apartments of the city’s dead, Ribowsky explores in gruesome detail the skeletons that hang in the Big Apple’s closets. Combing through the autopsy room, he also exposes the grim secrets that only a scalpel and a dead body can tell and explains how forensic investigation does not merely solve crimes—it saves lives.
But it is in the aftermath of September 11 that the ME’s office is handed its biggest challenge: to identify as many of the fallen as possible. With poignant descriptions, Ribowsky provides a dramatic account of the office’s diligent and unflappable work with the families of the victims, helping them emerge from the ashes of this tragedy while displaying the strength, grit, intelligence, and compassion that Americans expect from true New Yorkers.
At once compelling and heartbreaking, Dead Center is a story of New York unlike any other, blending the haunting with the sublime, while painting a striking portrait of death (and life) in the city that never sleeps.