Personal Effects: What Recovering the Dead Teaches Me About Caring for the Living

Robert A. Jensen, with James Hider. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-26799-3
In this gripping albeit grisly memoir, Jensen (Mass Fatality and Casualty Incidents) shares highlights of his career in disaster response. Now the chairman and owner of Kenyon International Emergency Services, Jensen’s first experience with “sudden, large-scale catastrophes” came in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, where he served in the U.S. Army’s mortuary unit. He describes the painstaking work of trying to match severed body parts, and explains how disaster response entails managing the needs of victims, their families, and the investigation. Gruesome details and corporate indifference abound as Jensen recounts disasters such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the Grenfell Tower fire in London. He advises readers to take good care of key documents, including birth and marriage certificates, that are necessary to settle an estate, but claims not to reflect much on the fleeting nature of life or his own need to “bring order to chaos.” Readers with a strong stomach will be fascinated by this up-close look at what it means to take charge of the response to an unspeakable tragedy. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/14/2021
Release date: 09/28/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-250-85384-4
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