"Practical Bomb Scene Investigation" 3rd Edition

     Now in its Third Edition, Practical Bomb Scene Investigation explores the investigative process that improvised explosive device (IED) specialists undertake at the scene of an explosion. Providing easy-to-understand, step-by-step procedures for managing and processing a bomb scene, it enables investigators to find the evidence and then make sense of what is found. The book is not only a roadmap on how to find and collect evidence and assess the scene, but also provides instruction on identifying the bombmaker's signature through latent print, DNA, explosive residue, metallurgical, and toolmark examination and forensic analysis. 


Back cover endorsement:

     Tom Thurman's Practical Guide to Bombing Crime Scene Investigation prepares tomorrow's investigators for their role in defeating terrorists. Never before has a publication been as timely and so necessary. I am confident this book will save lives.
-Jeffrey Norwitz, Professor of National Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College and Federal Special Agent  


Jeffrey H. Norwitz. Foreword to Practical Bomb Scene Investigation. 1st ed. by James T. Thurman, (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2006), xi- xii.

     A hot Alabama sun seared my head as I knelt in the grassy field.  Sweat stung my eyes as I struggled to hold the knife steady.  Suddenly, a blinding flash of white light and loud popping noise signaled my failure.  A stern voice announced I was dead, and called for the next student.  The smell smoke from a hot flash bulb betrayed my accidental detonation of the bomb – a training device actually – but in every way, identical to a homemade bomb which had recently destroyed a court house.  

     The place was the Hazardous Devices School at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.  The time was the late 1970’s.  Society was being threatened by homemade bombs and handling “improvised explosive devices” became just another task for law enforcement.  Funded by the FBI, the Hazardous Devices School opened in 1971 to train America’s first-responders, police, and firemen, who faced increasingly deadly threats from domestic terror groups.  

     More than three decades later, improvised explosive devices are still the enemy’s weapon of choice.  Despite technological advances in modern warfare and criminalistics, today’s asymmetric adversary is using the improvised explosive device with devastating effectiveness.  Witness the profound political consequences of the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombing.  Ten cell phone-initiated explosions killed 191 and injured over 1,800.  Within days, the sitting Spanish government was ousted.  Londoners reassessed strategic security issues following the July 7, 2005 subway explosions which killed 52.  In an era when precision-guided munitions can be dropped from 50,000 feet and hit a moving car, the enemy can still reciprocate with a buried roadside bomb.  

     The battlespace in today’s war against global terrorism finds military and law enforcement teamed as never before.  Moreover, there has never been a more critical time in our history for information and intelligence sharing.  Furthermore, the lessons from years of experience dealing with improvised devices, fusing systems, explosives, and blast scene investigations  – must be passed to today’s warriors who confront new dilemmas in defending our homeland.  Who better to do this, than an FBI veteran who worked the 1988, Pan Am flight 103, Lockerbie disaster and became one of the nation’s most revered bomb experts?

     Tom Thurman’s book will be as enduring as the challenge of defeating terrorism.  He has combined years of practical experience coupled with academic credentials to create the quintessential textbook which captures the essence of post-blast investigations, theory and dynamics of explosives, forensic studies involving bombs, and even a chapter dealing with chemical and radiological devices.  Thurman has collected perhaps the most comprehensive series of bomb-related photographs, diagrams and graphics in one book.  Leveraging his extensive global network of explosives experts, Thurman’s photo collection is an invaluable guide to identify military ordnance.  In simple to understand taxonomy, Tom takes the reader step-by-step through the critical stages of crime scene analysis and evidence preservation.  This book is must reading not only for military and civilian practitioners, but for academics, politicians and the media who seek to understand the threat of improvised bombs and destructive devices.    

     In sum; this is the right book, at the right time, written by the right expert, to address present and future challenges facing national security professionals.  Thurman has returned to the public, a treasure of life-long study which has the potential to save lives, defeat criminals, and neutralize terrorists.  


Jeffrey H. Norwitz

Professor, U.S. Naval War College

Special Agent, Naval Criminal Investigative Service


Available here 

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