Chris Lester's Reviews > Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff by Mary Roach
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's review
Mar 06, 11

bookshelves: science, non-fiction
Read from March 04 to 05, 2011

Nobody does popular science writing like Mary Roach. With her insatiable curiosity, her whimsical sense of humor, and her willingness to ask the questions that the rest of us would be too embarrassed to bring up, Ms Roach brings a delightfully human touch to subjects that would otherwise be too dry, too uncomfortable, or too macabre to think about. In this book she tackles the odd and amazing ways that researchers have used those who have given their bodies to science -- sometimes willingly, and sometimes ... not. Along the way she explores such diverse topics as body-snatching, the history of cremation, the search for the soul, the physiology of crucifixion, head transplants (or whole-body transplants, depending on your point of view), and the modern quest for more environmentally-friendly methods of human interment. Some parts of the book are truly ghastly to think about -- the stories about transplant experiments with live animals were particularly disturbing -- but for the most part Ms Roach keeps the exploration of her topic fun, informative and liberally seasoned with humor. Try it, you may be surprised how much you like it.
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03/04/2011 page 70
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