BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Reviews of Body Brokers by Annie Cheney

Body Brokers by Annie Cheney

Body Brokers

Inside America's Underground Trade in Human Remains

by Annie Cheney
  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  • First Published:
  • Mar 7, 2006
  • Paperback:
  • Mar 2007
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About This Book

Book Summary

An audacious, disturbing, and compellingly written investigative exposé of a little known aspect of the "death care" world: the lucrative business of procuring, buying, and selling human cadavers and body parts.

Body Brokers is an audacious, disturbing, and compellingly written investigative exposé of a little known aspect of the "death care" world: the lucrative business of procuring, buying, and selling human cadavers and body parts.
 
Every year human corpses meant for anatomy classes, burial, or cremation find their way into the hands of a shadowy group of entrepreneurs who profit by buying and selling human remains. While the government has controls on organs and tissue meant for transplantation, these "body brokers" capitalize on the myriad other uses for dead bodies that receive no federal oversight whatsoever: commercial seminars to introduce new medical gadgetry; medical research studies and training courses; and U.S. Army land-mine explosion tests.  A single corpse used for these purposes can generate up to $10,000.

As journalist Annie Cheney found while reporting on this subject over the course of three years,  when there's that much money to be made with no federal regulation, there are all sorts of shady (and fascinating) characters who are willing to employ questionable practices—from deception and outright theft -- to acquire, market, and distribute human bodies and parts.   In Michigan and New York she discovers funeral directors who buy corpses from medical schools and supply the parts to surgical equipment companies and associations of surgeons. In California, she meets a crematorium owner who sold the body parts of people he was supposed to cremate, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits.  In Florida, she attends a medical conference in a luxury hotel, where fresh torsos are delivered in large coolers and displayed on gurneys in a room normally used for banquets.  "That torso that you're living in right now is just flesh and bones.  To me, it's a product," says the New Jersey-based broker presiding over the torsos.   Tracing the origins of body brokering from the "resurrectionists" of the 19th century to the entrepreneurs of today, Cheney chronicles how demand for cadavers has long driven unscrupulous funeral home, crematorium and medical school personnel to treat human bodies as commodities. 
 
Gripping, often chilling, and sure to cause a reexamination of the American way of death, Body Brokers is a captivating work of first-person reportage.

Chapter 1
Wilderness

Joyce Zamazanuk knew that her son was dying. She knew it when the nurses quietly wheeled Jim to a private room on the seventh floor of the hospital in San Diego. His new room had a bed, a metal chair, and an oxygen tube, but little else. Outside, few visitors wandered the halls. A hush hung over the nursing station. Joyce thought, This must be where they bring the sick patients to die.

Six days in the hospital had done little to help Jim. AIDS had ravaged his body. The tumor that engulfed his lungs appeared larger in each new CAT scan. Always slender, Jim Farrelly, forty-five, was now reedlike beneath the cotton sheets and blankets. His thick brown hair had thinned to a soft, downy fur. He had trouble talking. Death by asphyxiation was certain.

Joyce wondered what awaited her beloved son: Would he feel pain in the moment of his passing? How much ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Cheney's investigations of both the reputable and crooked dealers create a fascinating but decidedly morbid work that covers some of the same ground as Mary Roach's Stiff - but digs deeper into the shady side of the American trade in body parts...continued

Full Review (266 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Media Reviews

Booklist - Donna Chavez
Starred Review. This is a chilling expose of the grisly industry of body trading.

Kirkus Reviews
A fascinating report filled with remarkable details, but definitely not for the squeamish.

Publishers Weekly
Readers will be horrified by this carefully researched expose revealing that the trade in corpses for medical research and education didn't go out with 19th-century grave robbers .... Cheney reveals a disturbing medical underworld that deserves attention.

Society of Professional Journalists 2005
Horrifying! Annie Cheney's account is meticulously reported and compellingly written. She uses details to anchor scenes visually and then pushes the reader to visualize the entrepreneurial manipulation of corpses — their dismemberment, sale and use — as both gruesome and matter-of-fact. She backs up her narrative with research into history, literature and crime. (This quote refers to Cheney's article, "The Resurrection Men", first run in Harpers Magazine, which formed the basis of Body Brokers).

Reader Reviews

Karen

No conspiracy?
Hi Ms. Cheney, I spoke to you on the phone several years ago. When I suggested that Philip Guyett was one of the people in your book, you didn't say " Who?" you said, " there's no conspiracy ".... Well, read Head Shoulders ...   Read More
Tina

Body Broker
I couldn't put this book down. I usually log on to bookbrowse.com and read a little about a book before picking it up at the library. This book is very real and page turner for sure. I used to work in a morgue while attending college...I never ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book



I have carried a donor card for more than 20-years and plan to always do so - but, I have to say that Body Brokers has given me pause for thought. I anticipated that if my body was no longer needed by me that it could be of help to other people, but now that it looks like I could simply be handing it over to be sold to the highest ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Body Brokers, try these:

  • Dr. Mütter's Marvels jacket

    Dr. Mütter's Marvels

    by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

    Published 2015

    About this book

    A mesmerizing biography of the brilliant and eccentric medical innovator who revolutionized American surgery and founded the country's most famous museum of medical oddities

  • Dry Storeroom No. 1 jacket

    Dry Storeroom No. 1

    by Richard Fortey

    Published 2009

    About this book

    More by this author

    Fortey introduces the reader to the extraordinary people, meticulous research and driving passions that helped to create the timeless experiences of wonder that is London’s Natural History Museum.

We have 4 read-alikes for Body Brokers, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman and a Thief
    A Gentleman and a Thief
    by Dean Jobb
    In the Roaring Twenties—an era known for its flash and glamour as well as its gangsters and ...
  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...
  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See
Lisa See's latest historical novel, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China.
Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Win This Book
Win Smothermoss

Smothermoss by Alisa Alering

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

Enter