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Book and Media Reviews
January 10, 2007

Forensics, History

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2007;297(2):215-220. doi:10.1001/jama.297.2.216

Dr Bernard Spilsbury was an early 20th-century British forensic pathologist. He gained fame after being involved in the forensic investigation of the famous “Dr Crippen Case”—his expert testimony in court made him the first modern forensic media figure. His methods were notable; for instance, he identified Crippen's victim by detailed microscopic study of a single scar. To convince the lay jury, Spilsbury brought the glass slides of the scar—and his microscope—to court. Spilsbury's further career as Home Office forensic pathologist was highlighted by several other high-profile cases and spanned two world wars. Spilsbury personally performed 25 000 postmortem examinations—up to 1000 per annum. He was knighted in 1923.

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