Library & Book Reviews

Library Information

All the books in the NYMS library may be viewed on site by members on any Thursday evening, provided they call or email the Librarian, Mel Pollinger and receive an acknowledgement.

Book Reviews

Book review by Peter Diaczuk

Color Atlas of Forensic Toolmark Identification
by Nicholas Petraco, 2011, CRC Press, ISBN 978-1-4200-4392-1

I first saw a pre-production copy of this book at the CRC table at last year’s American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in Seattle. CRC was accepting orders at that time and I was pleased when the first copies rolled of the presses a few months later.

A modern comprehensive text on toolmarks is now available. Not since the pivotal work of Davis over 50 years ago has a thorough treatment of toolmarks been performed (John E. Davis, An Introduction to Toolmarks, Firearms and the Striagraph, 1958). NYMS Fellow Nicholas Petraco has created a stand-alone book, as it includes chapters on microscopes and microscopy, principles of optics, a primer on tools themselves, how these tools interact with common surfaces encountered at crime scenes (leaving microscopic striations or impressions), how to make exemplar marks from suspect tools for comparison to unknown marks, the statistical foundation for making conclusions about comparisons, and case examples from the author’s vast experience as a Criminalist / Detective with the NYPD, where the above topics coalesced into a complete package.

The book is packed with color photos and photomicrographs (over 300!), making it well worth its cost. The combination of easily read text with many figures and photos for reference make this book a valuable resource for microscopists, criminalists, and firearm / toolmark examiners. Additionally, with toolmark comparisons being criticized recently, especially from non-scientists with little or no knowledge or expertise in either microscopy or tools, this book becomes an even greater resource when responding to these critics.



March 27, 2011

As the librarian for the New York Microscopical Society, I get to review some interesting books each year (Mel Pollinger, Librarian, NYMS). Recently, I reviewed:

“Atlas of Plants and Animals in Baltic Amber” by Wolfgang Weitschat and Wilfried Wichard

There have been many volumes written on amber, but only a few of these can be considered really well-written comprehensive works on the subject. The “Atlas of Plants and Animals in Baltic Amber” is one of these. It is, in fact, one of the very best I have seen in my experience. Weitschat and Wichard not onlywrite about the nature and beauty of the amber and its inclusions, but provide a comprehensive collection of fine images demonstrating a microcosm of the multitude of once-living creatures and plant materials that have survived both natural and man-made destruction over the course of eons. Some features of this book are as follows, but not limited to:

• Listing of images and their location in the book
• Magnification of each image
• Specific geographical locations for the amber
• Methods of preparation and imaging
• Descriptive text for each image
• Well color-balanced, well-arranged, sharp imaging
• Taxonomic index
• 31 color and 93 b/w figures in the text

Any good working book, should have well-planned contents pages, a substantial bibliography and a comprehensive index. This book has those and lots more. A researcher or serious amateur could easily compare the book’s images with field -collected material. The images are almost entirely in full color, with some b/w and the line drawings. All the imaging relates to both general and specific details as described in the text. Each image and/or drawing is referenced and identified. The text contains abundant details for its 256 pages.

Personal comment: This is one great and most useful book. It has already helped me to label images in my own collection. My thanks to the authors.

“Atlas of Plants and Animals in Baltic Amber” by Wolfgang Weitschat and Wilfried Wichard, 2002, hardcover, 24 x 21 cm., 256 pgs, 92 color plates containing 594 figures. 75.00 Euro. ISBN 3-931516-94-6. See, for ordering information.

“Coastal Plankton – Photo Guide for European Seas” by Otto Larink and Wilfried Westheide.

What places this book into the class of useful and important tools is its clarity of language (in English) and abundancy of descriptive and accurate images and drawings. Although seemingly aimed at the serious amateur, the professional marine biologist, too, should find the information and images very useful.
As a requirement for any good working book, this one boasts a well-defined contents page, a substantial bibliography and a comprehensive, taxonomy/morphology-based index. A worker could easily compare the book’s images with live material. The images, in full color and b/w, and the line drawings appear to have been selected to relate to both general and specific details as described in the text. Each image and/or drawing is referenced and identified. The text contains abundant details for such a volume of only 143 pages.

This is a book to be kept near the work table or, with care, taken into the field, but not buried on a shelf, although, even as a “coffee-table” book, it would still fascinate.

My only suggestions to the publisher and author regarding “Coastal Plankton…” are that the next edition should be longer and be spiral-bound so that it could lay flat on the work table.

“Coastal Plankton – Photo Guide for European Seas,” by Otto Larink and Wilfried Westheide, 2006, paperback (durable soft cover), 24 x 21 cm., 143 pgs, 60 color plates containing 649 figures. 30.00 Euro. See, for ordering information.

Mel Pollinger, FNYMS


New York Microscopical Society

21 January 2006