Sally M. Walker's "Written In Bone:  Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland" provides a strong, compelling picture of the value of forensic archeology, written in an appealing and engaging manner.  Walker makes good use of photographs and illustrations to explain how archeologists do their work.  Her analysis goes far to make the case for why such studies matter.

Walker builds her analysis around three central questions that she asks of the archeological remains that she discusses:
  1. Who were you?
  2. How did you live?
  3. How did you die?
Each of the skeletons that are discussed reveal interesting and engaging details about the lives of the people and their surroundings.  Scientists can determine gender, race, age, area of origin, lifestyle in the colonies, and often the likely cause of death.The stories are incredibly moving and poignant.  The people we learn about lived and died in diverse and varied ways:  a ship's captain. a boy who died from an infected arrow wound, an indentured servant who likely was killed by his master and dumped in a garbage pit, the wealthy family buried in lead-lined coffins, and the slave woman who was treated with care after her death. In each case, Walker elaborates how the physical evidence reveals much about the lives and times of the people whose remains are examined.

I personally learned a great deal from this book.  Walker's explanation of how archeologists set up a dig and manage it matched my own experience on a dig.  Plus, her writing is lively and compelling--she makes this world, pardon the pun, come alive for the reader.  I think many students in middle school and above would find this book fascinating.  It provides a wonderful blend of science, story, and history that would make it a welcome addition to the study of colonial America.