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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Forensic Science

Forensic Science: An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques, Third Edition by Stuart H. James, Jon J. Nordby Ph.D (CRC ) reaches beyond the scope of other introductory texts to provide a powerful reference for professionals and students alike. The new edition of this perennial bestseller covers a range of fundamental topics essential to modern forensic investigation and includes the technical detail needed to understand the breadth of the science. Featuring contributions from top experts in the field discussing their own cases, this volume delves into all aspects of investigation, both out in the field and in the lab, providing vocabulary, investigation protocols, and laboratory procedures, while also explaining the roles of forensic scientists and pathologists. It covers firearm examination, forensic DNA, footwear and tire track evidence, and bloodstain patterns, as well as vehicular accident reconstruction, forensic engineering, and cybercrime. More than 400 photographs, most in color, provide significant insight while still being appropriate for students.

  • Improvements to the Third Edition include:
  • New material on forensic photography, crime scenes, and forensic pathology, including a chapter on Forensic Digital Photo Imaging
  • Simplified, easy-to-understand chapters on computer forensics and DNA analysis Revised content in each chapter to reflect cutting-edge advances in the field

Forensic Science: An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques, Third Edition provides the student as well as the forensic practitioner with a general overview, focused under-standing, and appreciation of the wide scope of the forensic science disciplines. This textbook was developed primarily to provide a standard text for students of forensic science at the advanced high school and college undergraduate and graduate level. It serves well as a useful reference to those already involved in forensic science or the criminal justice system including investigators, forensic specialists, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.

Unlike this text, many existing texts offered as "introductions to forensic science" focus on only one discipline—the discipline of criminalistics and related laboratory subjects—to the exclusion of fundamental topics such as forensic pathology, forensic anthropology, forensic engineering, and bloodstain pattern analysis, to name a few. It is the intention of the editors to offer a much more comprehensive text in terms of general forensic science topics with technical and scientific detail that adequately introduces the breadth and richness of the forensic sciences to students and practitioners alike.

The editors, as well as CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, have assembled excellent contributing authors who are noted and highly respected forensic scientists and legal practitioners from through-out the United States as well Canada and the Netherlands. Many of the chapters that comprised the Second Edition have been revised and updated with the addition of a new chapter on Forensic Digital Photo Imaging. The book is divided into 7 sections with a total of 34 chapters representing a wide scope of forensic disciplines, as well as a broad set of issues concerning forensic science and the law. The chapters contain numerous references and suggested readings to provide further opportunity to explore forensic disciplines of interest to the reader in greater depth. Chapter 1, Here We Stand: What a Forensic Scientist Does, authored by Jon Nordby provides a glimpse of what it is like to be a forensic scientist. It presents what is involved when forensic scientists work together with law enforcement on emotionally and scientifically challenging cases.

Section 1: Forensic Pathology and Related Specialties introduces the reader to the forensic examination of the deceased. As the title indicates, death investigation involves a multifaceted approach of different forensic specialties. Issues include challenges encountered when identifying the deceased, determining the cause and manner of death, and establishing the postmortem inter-val. Chapter 2, The Role of the Forensic Pathologist, authored by Dr. Ronald K. Wright, M.D., focuses on issues involving differences between coroner and medical examiner systems, training requirements in forensic medicine, the role of forensic pathologists in both criminal and civil cases, and the autopsy procedure itself. Chapter 3, Forensic Nursing, authored by Janet S. Barber Duval, Catherine M. Dougherty, and Mary K. Sullivan, focuses on a discipline that plays an increasingly important role in forensic investigation with the collection of evidence from the deceased as well as from the living in cases of survivors from traumatic injuries

and sexual assault. Chapter 4, Investigation of Traumatic Deaths authored by Dr. Ronald K. Wright, M.D., emphasizes various types of traumatic injuries including blunt force, sharp force, and gun-shot injuries. Other traumas presented include asphyxial, thermal and electrical injuries. Chapter 5, Forensic Toxicology, authored by John Joseph Fenton, discusses areas including workplace drug testing and postmortem toxicology. Analytical methodologies are described as well as interpretation of toxicological findings as they relate to the workplace environment and to the cause and manner of death. Chapter 6, Forensic Odontology, authored by R. Tom Glass, is devoted to the role of the dentist in forensic science. Issues of dental identification of the deceased, bite mark recognition, personal injury analysis, and dental malpractice are presented. Chapter 7, Forensic Anthropology, authored by Marcella H. Sorg and William D. Haglund, provides an introduction to forensic anthropology and its role on the forensic team, involving examination and identification of decomposed and skeletonized human remains. Chapter 8, Forensic Taphonomy, authored by William D. Haglund and Marcella H. Sorg, is a relatively new collective forensic discipline basically defined as the study of postmortem debris. This chapter discusses the importance of anthropological, botanical, and entomological evidence associated with environmental and time of death issues. Chapter 9, Forensic Entomology, authored by Gail S. Anderson, is devoted to the study and forensic examination of the identification and life cycle of insects as they apply to the decomposition process and the estimation of the time of death.

Section 2: Evaluation of the Crime Scene focuses on the proper examination and reconstruction of the scene with emphasis on the recognition, documentation, collection, and interpretation of physical evidence, including bloodstain patterns. Chapter 10, Crime Scene Investigation, authored by Marilyn T. Miller, introduces the reader to the crime scene in terms of evidence search and recognition, procedural and photographic protocols, and the basic theory of crime scene reconstruction. Chapter 11, Forensic Digital Photo Imaging, authored by Patrick Jones discusses the principles of digital image photography and its application to the proper photography of crime scenes and physical evidence. Chapter 12, Recognition of Bloodstain Patterns, authored by Stuart H. James, Paul E. Kish and T. Paulette Sutton, discusses basic bloodstain pattern interpretation and its application to the crime scene, and the examination of bloodstained clothing. The third edition provides a new and interesting case presentation.

Section 3: Forensic Science in the Laboratory begins with Chapter 13, The Forensic Laboratory, authored by Linda R. Netzel and introducing the reader to the forensic laboratory. It discusses the multidisciplinary functions of the laboratory involving the analysis of physical evidence. Emphasis is placed on quality control and accreditation. Chapter 14, The Identification and Characterization of Blood and Bloodstains, authored by Robert P. Spalding, leads into more detailed chapters that discuss the analysis of specific types of physical evidence. Specific attention is given to the identification of blood utilizing chemical, crystal, and immunological tests as well as conventional serology. Chapter 15, Identification of Biological Fluids and Stains, authored by Andrew Greenfield and Monica M. Sloan, presents the methods for the identification of semen, saliva, and other biological fluids that are important types of physical evidence, especially in cases of sexual assault. Chapter 16, Forensic DNA: Technology, Applications and the Law authored by Susan Herrero, offers practical application and up-to-date information on DNA analysis. The role of DNA analysis assisting with missing body and cold cases is emphasized. Chapter 17, Microanalysis and Examination of Trace Evidence, authored by Thomas A. Kubic and Nicholas Petraco, presents the examination of trace evidence with the microscope and analytical instrumentation. Chapter 18, Fingerprints authored by R.E. Gaensslen discusses fingerprint classification and current methods of identification. Section 3 then concentrates on Chapters 19, Forensic Footwear Evidence, and Chapter 20, Forensic Tire Tread and Tire Track Evidence, both authored by William J. Bodziak. Chapter 21, Firearm and Tool Mark Examinations, authored by Walter F. Rowe discusses features of firearms and ammunition and the comparison and identification of projectiles and casings. Chapter 22, Questioned Documents, authored by Howard Seiden and Frank H. Norwitch, discusses the process of document analysis and ink identification. Chapter 23, Analysis of Controlled Substances, authored by Donnell R. Christian, Jr. discusses the methodologies of solid dose drug identification utilizing laboratory instrumentation and techniques.

Section 4: Forensic Engineering begins with the forensic investigation of structural failures in Chapter 24, Structural Failures, authored by Randall K. Noon, with the focus on the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings caused by the terrorist attack with hijacked commercial jetliners on September 11, 2001. This section is then complemented with a detailed discussion on fire and explosion investigation in Chapter 25, Basic Fire and Explosion Investigation, authored by David R. Redsicker, that explains the chemistry of fire, origin determination, and the investigation of accidental and intentionally set fires and explosions. Chapter 26, Vehicular Accident Reconstruction, authored by Randall K. Noon, discusses the principles of physics utilized in the reconstruction of vehicular accidents.

Section 5: Cybertechnology and Forensic Science concentrates on a relatively new forensic discipline concerning the use of computers in forensic science and the investigation of computer crime. Chapter 27, Informatics in Forensic Science, authored by Zeno Geradts, focuses on the extensive use of forensic databases and some of the modern computer image enhancement techniques. Chapter 28, Computer Crime and the Electronic Crime Scene, authored by Thomas A. Johnson, explores aspects of computer and Internet crime.

Section 6: Forensic Application of the Social Sciences introduces the reader to the applications of forensic psychology,

forensic psychiatry, and criminal profiling. Chapter 29, Forensic Psychology, authored by Louis B. Schlesinger, discusses psycho local research and the law, psychological testing, and application of clinical psychology. Chapter 30, Forensic Psychiatry, author( by Robert A. Sadoff, introduces the reader to the role of the fore sic psychiatrist, including issues of competency and legal insanity as well as those involving felony crimes, such as homicide, sexual crimes, and juvenile cases. Chapter 31, Serial Offenders: Linked Cases by Modus Operandi and Signature, authored by Robert Keppel, then discusses the linking of cases through modus op randi that leads into the subject of criminal profiling which explained in Chapter 32, Criminal Personality Profiling, authors by Michael R. Napier and Kenneth P. Baker.

Section 7: Legal and Ethical Issues in Forensic Science complements the technical chapters of this book with detail€ information concerning the relationship of the law and forensic science. Chapter 33, Forensic Evidence, authored by Terrence ] Kiely, presents the legal issues from the point of view of a forensic scientist and addresses the ethical challenges and application of scientific logic in the concept of the criminal justice systen Chapter 34, Countering Chaos: Logic, Ethics and the Criminal Justice System, authored by Jon J. Nordby, presents an overview of ethical and evidentiary issues from an attorney's point of vies The book also presents an extensive glossary of terms and a set ( comprehensive appendices. The glossary provides the reader with quick reference to forensic terminology gleaned from the chapter (Words highlighted in blue are terms included in the Glossary.) The appendices have been designed to provide additional information to the reader. They include a section devoted to biohazard safety that is essential to those in forensic science who enter the crime scene, the autopsy room, and the laboratory, as well as anyone who must handle biological forms of physical evidence. A comprehensive listing of important and useful forensic-related websites has bee included. These Web sites represent a broad spectrum of forensic topics and many contain extensive links to sites of forensic interest. Each of these Web site addresses has been verified to date. Finally, a trigonometric table of sine and tangent functions, as we as metric measurements and equivalents, have been included as reference for scientific calculations.

This third edition text, in its attempt to bring the discipline ( forensic science to the student, includes numerous photographs, whic some may interpret as unpleasantly graphic. They are necessary t communicate the science and are offered in the spirit of education.

The editors and the contributing authors have combined tim and talent to provide a solid, up-to-date, general forensic science tex The essential forensic disciplines have been addressed in these char ters. The field of forensic science constantly expands to include man additional areas of expertise. Many of these areas fall under th rubrics of developments in existing, established forensic sciences.



Forensic Human Identification: An Introduction edited by Tim Thompson, Sue Black (CRC Press) In philosophy, "identity" is whatever makes an entity definable and recognizable, in terms of possessing a set of qualities or characteristics that distinguish it from entities of a different type. "Identification," therefore, is the act of establishing that identity. In the 17th century, John Locke proposed his tabula rasa (blank slate) philosophy, which concluded that the newborn child is without identity and that it is entirely defined by society and circumstances after birth. While this may have some basis for discussion in the worlds of metaphysics, psychology, and social anthropology it has restricted relevance in the worlds of disaster-victim identification, biometrics, and forensic science. It is, however, true to say that, although many of our parameters of biological identity may be acquired after birth (tattoos, trauma, disease, dental intervention, etc.), many are biologically inherent and established in the period between conception and birth (DNA profile, sex, fingerprints, blood group, etc.).

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the only international convention that addresses the subject of identity as a fundamental human right by pro­claiming that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance. There is no equivalent international article relating to the adult and therefore these rights pertain only until the age of 18 years or when the child is deemed to have attained majority. Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention explicitly refer to the child's right to an identity. Article 7 of the Convention establishes that, from birth, every child has the right to a name and to have that individuality recognized. Article 8 emphasizes the preservation of that identity and the fundamental importance of preserving that name, nationality, and family belonging.

The right to an identity is largely defined as the "existential interest of each person in not seeing the external or social projection of his or her personality upset, denaturalized, or denied." Yet the notion of human "identity" is a somewhat abstract and ephemeral concept that relies upon philosophy and psychology for its interpretation and implies the existence of a private space or lebensraum for each person regarding attitudes, actions, and beliefs. As such, we live under the somewhat misguided conception that each and every one of us is unique, although identical twins and doppelgangers highlight some obvious inconsistencies in this approach.

Further, the conundrum of mistaken identity and identity theft has fascinated humanity and formed the cornerstone of many aspects of literature, film, television, and criminal reality. Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Dumas are among the many literary masters who have entertained audiences with the well tried formula of identity deception, investigation, and ultimate moral satisfaction achieved through exposure and justice. Yet, by its very nature, misappropriation of identity is a crime that may require forensic assistance to reach a resolution and, in such a situation, scientific verification generally assumes central relevance.

We live in a society where personal and national security is ever more prominent on our agendas, and so we require more stringent and reliable measures to verify and secure our identities. Although, in Dumas' world of Martin Guerre, identity was finally established through trickery and confession, in today's world a simple DNA comparison with his son (Sanxi) would have solved the problem beyond all reasonable doubt. Biological indicators of identity harness the composite "uniqueness" of our bodies to provide signatures that can confirm our legitimacy with reasonable certainty and, by natural extension, confirm the provenance of our physical remains in the event of death. Maintaining and protecting the integrity of our identity has reached levels of unprecedented importance and has led to international legislation designed to protect our human rights. However, we rather confusingly also retain the rights to multiple identities (e.g., as performers do) and to change our identity (e.g., security personnel) and so the concept of assigning one single identity to one single physiological being is inherently flawed.

Equally flawed is the utilization of the word "identity?' It originates from the Latin "idem" which means "the same," i.e., identical. This causes a rather conspicuous problem for identification in relation to biological organisms such as humans, as by their inherent nature they are not static, but grow and alter with the passage of time or the introduction of different environments or stimuli. The German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz proposed a law that states:

X is the same as Y if, and only if, X and Y have all the same properties and relations. Thus, whatever is true of X is also true of Y, and vice versa.

For this argument to hold true, then change in any property would imply that the original form no longer exists and has been replaced by an entirely new form. Every little change in every little property would mean the whole original is destroyed. Leibniz's Law can be salvaged for the real world, however, when the statement is time-index-linked by allowing properties to be described as occurring at particular times and therefore accepting and recognizing the importance and effects of a time-related continuum.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus upheld the metaphysical approach to identity and change by stating that "No man can cross the same river twice, because neither the man nor the river can remain the same." This is a fundamental problem in the confirmation of identity of a biological form as it does not remain "identical" at any two points in time. Philosophers have long tackled the thorny question of just how much change an identity can tolerate.

The quandary of change or replacement in relation to identity is typified by the "Theseus paradox." In classical Greek mythology, the ship that brought Theseus home from Crete (after the Minotaur incident) was faithfully preserved for generations. The old planks were removed as the wood decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among philosophers for the debate over the constancy of identity in relation to change. One side held that the ship remained the same, while the other contended that it was not identical and therefore not the same.

But how much replacement is required, or can be tolerated, before that point of common identity is lost? The composition of the baby has been completely replaced, yet

she retains the same identity as the teenager whose biological components will again be completely replaced by the time she becomes an old woman. Yet, in terms of identity of the individual, they are all considered to be one and the same person who has metamor­phosed yet maintains a continuity of person through a traceable history and the retention of verifiable facts. But, does this still hold when the woman develops Alzheimer's disease and she can either no longer prove or recognize her own identity? This implies that identity can operate independent of the individual and is therefore a much wider social concept rather than solely restricted to appreciation of "self." Identity can of course be traced through reasonable channels of change but some specific characteristics are independent of extraneous change and therefore have the ability to operate on an isolated level. These verifiable biological parameters of identity exist independent of the internal psychological "self" (e.g. DNA, fingerprints, and blood grouping) and tend to be those inherent characteristics that develop between the period of conception and birth. Even in the world of identical twins and doppelgangers, these factors can retain the discriminatory capability to identify the individual beyond reasonable doubt.

Humans do not have the inherent capability exhibited by some life forms to display complete body transformation (e.g., the caterpillar into the butterfly). Yet there is some speculation that the rise in cosmetic surgery, organ and bone marrow transplants, blood transfusion, genetic engineering, and even cloning may be the human biological equivalent of the paradox displayed by the ship of Theseus.

Identification requires the comparison of two data sets to establish their likelihood of belonging to one and the same individual. Aristotle's law of identity states that for two objects to be identical then the predicate must equal (not approximate) the subject (i.e., A=A). Yet the concept of biological change requires greater flexibility in this law so that it is perhaps more appropriate to refer to it as A=A* (reflecting Leibniz's time-indexed law) where the asterisk introduces the possibility of accountable change. In the field of biological human identity it is essential that the value attributed to that asterisk be as small as possible. The distance between the two data sets, in terms of statistical probability, must be low if the two are to be linked with confidence and forensic credibility. It is vital that one of these data sets must be grounded in the certainty of verifiable identity. For example, the DNA sample retrieved from the toothbrush of the missing person must be shown to be indigenous and not a contaminant. Once verified, this information forms the baseline upon which other DNA samples will be compared until a match is confirmed — bringing together two data sets of identity information. A mistake in the verifiable data set will never lead to a confirmation of identity. This approach is central to the premise of DVI (disaster victim identification) rationale but is equally applicable to the suspect/perpetrator scenario or to the abductee/missing-person concept, all of which concentrate on issues of identification.

Therefore, in biological identity, we can accept that with regard to the definition of "change," an object changes with respect to a property, providing that object has that property at one time, and, at a later time, the object does not. What changes is the fact that the object has a particular property. The only way that property can change is if the object remains in existence. One can therefore think of a continuing object as the axis for change, or indeed the arena where change occurs. The confirmation of identity of the biological form therefore accepts change, and judicially we interpret that change through the realms of statistics, probability, and rationality. The formulation of the approach is therefore: How likely is it that "x" can equate to "y" knowing or assuming the potential for realistic change between the two points?

Human "identification" and, more specifically, the biological aspects of human identity, are grounded in the well defined and statistically verifiable sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics. The ability to evaluate the probability of biological identity is particularly pertinent to medico-legal investigations concerning the deceased. The requirement to establish the identity of the deceased tends to fall into three wide categories:

1. Criminal investigations resulting from an unexplained natural death, homicide, or suicide. It is virtually impossible to satisfactorily investigate a situation where one is confronted with a corpse to which no identity can be assigned. The investigating authority can carry the inquiries no further, as they cannot know whom to interview — family, friends, or colleagues. Most unidentified deceased in this situation result in an open case investigation with no resolution until identity can be secured.

2. Accidents and mass disaster incidents, whether as a result of forces of nature or human intervention, either accidental or intentional. The Interpol resolution on DVI recommended to all 184 member countries that they should adopt a common recording format and establish, where possible, a DVI team, thereby facilitating international cooperation and information sharing. The ultimate aim of all DVI operations must invariably be to establish the identity of every victim by comparing and matching accurate antemortem (AM) and postmortem (PM) data. It has been recognized that the inability to identify human remains has important economic and moral consequences for the families of the deceased and ultimately for the state. As this book is written in 2006, we have seen an unprecedented demand for human-identification capabilities both at home and overseas. The 2005 hurricane season will go down in meteorological history books as having the most named tropical cyclones, from Hurricanes Arlene, Katrina, and Rita through Hurricane Wilma, and on to inclusion of additional usage of the Greek alphabet for storms designated as alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, and zeta. Never before have there been 22 named tropical cyclones in any one-year period. In addition to this, we have witnessed the devastation of the Asian tsunami, the earthquakes in Iran, Pakistan, and Sumatra, terrorist attacks in London, Iraq, and Sharm-el-Sheikh, as well as plane crashes in Iran, Nigeria, and Cyprus, to name but a few.

3. War crimes and genocide. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 served to commit to international law the protection and amelioration of the wounded and sick involved in armed conflicts, prisoners of war, and civilians in times of war. Article 17 of Convention 1 states:

Parties to the conflict shall ensure that burial or cremation of the dead, carried out individually as far as circumstances permit, is preceded by a careful examination, if possible by a medical examination, of the bodies, with a view to confirming death, establishing identity and enabling a report to be made. ... For this purpose, they shall organize at the commencement of hostilities an Official Graves Registration Service, to allow subsequent exhumations and to ensure the identification of bodies, whatever the site of the graves, and the possible transportation to the home country.

Interpol categorizes identity into two broad groupings: (1) circumstantial evidence includes information pertaining to personal effects (e.g., clothing, jewelry, and pocket contents) and also visual confirmation of identity by a relative, friend, or colleague; (2) physical evidence of identity is generally provided either by external examination of features, e.g., skin color, sex, tattoos, scars, or specific features such as fingerprints. Internal examination of the physical evidence of identity is achieved from medical/scientific information (e.g., healed fractures, pathological conditions, blood groups, DNA, or from dental evidence). It is generally accepted that the order of credibility for confirmation or establishing identity increases as the investigator passes from circumstantial evidence into physical evidence and particularly through to internal indicators.

It is not always possible to achieve a confirmed identity and Jensen (1999, p. xiv) described three categories of identity:

1. Positive or confirmed identity, which occurs when two sets of information are compared and enough specific unique data markers match to conclude that the records were, with all likelihood, created from the same individual. Furthermore, no irreconcilable differences are established. Unique data markers may include fingerprints, DNA, dentition, and even previously diagnosed medical conditions.

2. Possible or presumptive identity (BTB: believed to be) occurs when several indi­vidual factors are considered and, although no single factor alone justifies the establishment of identification, taken together the factors are sufficient for a possible or presumptive identification (ID). Factors may include identifiable personal effects, visual recognition, racial characteristics, age, sex, stature, anomalies, or individual­izing skeletal traits.

3. Finally, Jensen proposed that exclusion occurs when all deceased in a definable category such as male or female have been identified and all surviving victims have been accounted for. BTB have all been confirmed and only one remaining deceased could not be someone else. No factors exclude identification.

There is an addition to this exclusion category that is particularly important. While it is impossible to confirm identity with "absolute" certainty, it is possible to exclude identity with absolute certainty. For example, when a skull washed up onto the beach on the west coast of Scotland recently, police thought it likely to be the remains of a known missing person in the area — a female of 42 years of age. The skull showed the presence of an active metaphyseal surface at the spheno-occipital synchondrosis indicating an age at death in excess of 18 years. This skull could not have been that of a 42-year-old. This capability to exclude with certainty is important and is a powerful tool in the identification process.

The recognition of a self identity may be a basic tenet of humanity and therefore, by extension, the scientific ability to confirm that identity is a natural progressive step. In a world where our physical security has never been less certain and our identity has never been so under siege, it is inevitable that the demands placed on the multidisciplinary subject of biological human identification will be challenging. The determination of bio­logical identity of the living or the deceased is undertaken by forensic practitioners to fulfill our obligations to international humanitarian law, to uphold human rights, and to assist those who survive.

Flight 427: Anatomy of an Air Disaster by Gerry Byrne (Copernicus Books) Boeing's 737 is indisputably the most popular and arguably the safest commercial airliner in the world. But the plane had a lethal flaw, and only after several disastrous crashes and years of painstaking investigation was the mystery of its rudder failure solved. This book tells the story of how engineers and scientists finally uncovered the defect that had been engineered into the plane.
It's hard to imagine that a book about an air crash could be a page-turner in the style of a Ludlum or Clancy, but Flight 427 manages to be just that: it's a book about hi-tech sleuths racing against time and looming danger to solve an unfathomable mystery: why commercial airliners in seemingly perfect working order flipped over and fell from the sky. Author Bryne manages this in a style that is both suspenseful and educational: I learned a lot about wind, weather, piloting, and flight without ever feeling I was being taught. The most astonishing thing I learned was that the suspected culprit in the crash of 427 (and other crashes and near-crashes) is still in the tail rudders of 737s flying today: that the fix would take so long to implement tells you a lot about the intersection of commerce (the already tottering airline industry could not withstand a grounding of 737s), science, and government. And that could be the most chilling aspect of this jet-age spy story. Highly recommended for anyone interested in technology and/or aviation. (Maybe not for anyone already afraid of flying!)
. . . At 2 minutes and 57 seconds past 7:00, three thumps are heard in the cockpit. "Sheez!" exclaims Germano. "Zuh," says Emmett almost simultaneously. Then there is another mysterious thump. Germano inhales and exhales rapidly. There's an unknown clicking sound, then another thump, this time softer. "Whoa," says Germano, and there's more mysterious clicking and Emmett grunts. There's another, different clicking sound and Germano yells, "Hang on!" The aircraft's engines power up and there's more grunting, louder this time, from Emmett. "Hang on," repeats Germano, and there's another click and the sound of the autopilot-disconnect warning, a wailing horn. . . .
"What the hell is this?" asks Germano as various automated warnings go off in the cockpit. "What the . . . ," he repeats. "Oh," says Emmett. "Oh God, Oh God," says Germano. Then the approach controller cuts in and he's only just said "USAir . . ." when Germano yells into the radio mike, "Four twenty-seven emergency!"
"Shit," says Emmett. "Pull!" yells Germano. "Oh shit," says Emmett, "Pull, pull," says Germano. "God," says Emmett, and Germano screams. "No!" yells Emmett, and the recording suddenly ends.

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