A comprehensive reference source on the theory, techniques, and applications of the various forensic sciences.
This set addresses one of the fastest-growing subjects in academic curricula—the forensic sciences, which are also known as criminalistics. Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of both public and academic interest in the application of scientific techniques to investigations of crime. Television audiences have developed a seemingly insatiable appetite for shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Cold Case that go into the minutiae of how forensic techniques are used to solve crimes. The emphasis in such shows tends to be on crimes of violence, particularly murder. However, although forensic sciences do indeed play a major role in homicide investigations, they are also applied to a multitude of other kinds of investigations, ranging from simple accidents and arson to war crimes and writing instrument analysis—all subjects studied in academic courses on forensic science and criminal justice.
The topic list of Salem's new reference set has been carefully constructed to cover the full range of the forensic sciences, whose incredible variety can be seen in the titles of some of the set's core essays: Forensic accounting, Forensic anthropology, Forensic archaeology, Forensic botany, Forensic entomology, Forensic geoscience, Forensic nursing, Forensic odontology, Forensic palynology, Forensic pathology, Forensic photography, Forensic psychiatry, Forensic psychology, Forensic sculpture, and Forensic toxicology.
In 465 alphabetically arranged essays ranging in length from 500 to 3,000 words, Forensic Science approaches its subject from multiple directions. One of the primary approaches is from the point of view of forensic investigators. In addition to its core essays on subspecialties and allied fields, including those listed above, the set has essays on specific types of investigations, such as arson, child abduction and kidnapping, homicide, and computer crime; both general and specific investigative techniques, such as autopsies, ballistics, chromatography, crime scene documentation, fingerprint analysis, and polygraph analysis; specialized equipment, such as bomb and nuclear detection devices; and types of evidence, such as fire debris, fibers and filaments, glass, and blood residue and stains. Other essays cover both general and specific aspects of chemical and biological agents, such as biotoxins, carbon monoxide, illicit drugs, and a variety of poisons. Additional essays examine specific types of injuries, diseases, and other medical conditions, such as gunshot and knife wounds, electrical injuries, bubonic plague, hemorrhagic fevers and diseases, and smallpox. Attention is also given to the many professional organizations in forensic science fields, such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the International Association for Identification, and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.
A second broad approach taken by Forensic Science is its coverage of the role of forensic science in the American legal system. The set includes brief articles on some of the most important federal legislation applying to controlled substances, such as the Harrison Narcotic Drug Act of 1914, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, as well as such international agreements as the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. Articles on selected Supreme Court decisions, including Miranda v. Arizona, and a variety of important legal principles, such as habeas corpus and mens rea, also help to illuminate the legal dimensions of the forensic sciences. Law-enforcement bodies and government investigative units covered in the set include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Secret Service, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab, and the National Transportation Safety Board.
A third broad approach taken by Forensic Science—and one that should have a wide appeal to many readers—is its extensive coverage of specific historical subjects. These range from overviews of ancient criminal cases and mysteries and ancient science in law and courtrooms to examinations of such high-profile modern cases as the O. J. Simpson murder trial, the Unabomber case, and famous Hollywood forensic cases. The set also includes essays on such subjects as the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case, the exhumations of Presidents Zachary Taylor and Abraham Lincoln, and mysteries surrounding the deaths of Napoleon Bonaparte and Ludwig van Beethoven. All these historical topics present fascinating case studies in the application of forensic science.
Finally, Forensic Science makes a special effort to address depictions of forensics in the media. Long overview essays examine misconceptions fostered by the media and the treatment of forensic science in television, literature, and journalism. Briefer essays cover such iconic individual television programs as CSI, Cold Case, and Forensic Files. A special appendix offers brief descriptions of many other television programs.
As with Salem's other encyclopedic reference works, articles in Forensic Science contain helpful top matter that defines the topics and summarizes their relevance to forensic science and Further Reading notes. The alphabetical arrangement—which includes head-note cross-references of alternative terms (e.g., "Lie detectors. See Polygraph analysis")—makes topics easy to find. Additional finding aids include category and subject indexes and cross-references to related topics at the ends of essays.
The appendixes include an annotated bibliography of general works, a biographical directory of key figures in the history of the field, a glossary, a guide to online resources, a directory of television shows in which forensic sciences figure prominently, and a time line of major events.