For two thousand years, cadavers (some willingly, some unwittingly) have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.
In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
©2003 Mary Roach; (P)2003 Tantor Media, Inc.
"Uproariously funny....informative and respectful...irreverent and witty....impossible to put down." (Publishers Weekly)
"Not grisly but inspiring, this work considers the many valuable scientific uses of the body after death." (Library Journal)
"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year." (Entertainment Weekly)
Inspired by the tv series, 6 feet under, I thought it would be interesting to read about what really happens after we die. The author even discusses our options, from the traditional to the enviromentally friendly. This book lead me through a reflection on what death really means to me and so many others. Facts, gore, and humour, what else could I ask for?!!
I really enjoyed this book. The author’s light style of writing took a topic that can be difficult to discuss and made it accessible. Although parts of the book were amusing, the tone was always respectful. Very enjoyable and fascinating – made me rethink what I want to do with my body after death.
I thought this audiobook was hysterical! As a nurse I learned quite a few answers to questions I was afraid to ask. Provided me with even more respect for the dead and a stronger desire to donate whatever is needed!
Never got to go to a library until the age of 8 ! Since then I have become a book addict. History, biography and fiction all thrill me.
This book was sugested to me by my son. The premis sounds morbid but I enjoyed every minute. I now want to listen to all of her books.
Sometimes that is all I want from a reading, and I got it here. I was also entertained. She is not as clever as Bill Bryson or Sarah Vowell, two who make a living on enlightening while entertaining, but she can at least be mentioned in the same sentance as them.
One disappointment, perhaps because of a deadline, is that little is said about plastination-- the process of turning body tissue into plastic. I saw the controversial show in Denver of posed plastinated bodies and it was amazing. She mentions an earlier show in Europe but obviously didn't see it. It is too bad, because this is the biggest thing to happen to the corpse in decades.
I had been eye-balling this book for a few years, but thought to myself, "Who reads a book about cadavers"? I was especially hesitant because I lost a family member about two years ago and thought I might be picturing him while reading about cadavers. Well, I finally decided to read it - much to the dismay of my husband.
What a great book! At times I found it rather disturbing, but mostly I found it fascinating. The author is a great writer and manages to add quite a bit of humor to the topic.
This was an amazing book. The commute miles just flew by and, unlike with fiction, I was still enriching my mind and learning new trivia with which to annoy my wife and coworkers.
From the first paragraph, this book is captivating in a guilty, gross, leering way. The narrator is perfect for this type of text and the author's sense of humor is transferred to the listener in the best possible way. I only wish I could find another audiobook this intresting... or two or three.
This is one of those books that could be a POSTER CHILD for audio books in general - simply one of the most inspired works I've ever experienced. The marriage of a charming, wry and astute author (think David Sedaris as a forensic journalist) with a narrator who's own talents - not to mention sense of irony - is definitely up to the task. In an engrossing span of chapters ranging from airline crash investigators to funeral directors brushing up their cosmetic skills on anonymous decapitions, Roach never forces a cheap laugh, but unearths many as she explores the history and state of our mortal ends with a scientists eye and a wisecracking mouth. There are certain chapters I enjoyed more than others (and found lesser and more compelling) but overall I have rarely seen such deft journalistic skills more hilariously demonstrated. Defintely a 5-star listen!
Here is a toast to Mrs Roach and her book STIFF. Her writing is very talented in the descriptions which she gives of a subject matter that not many find pleasant to contemplate or discuss. She describes that her interest in this topic began as personal and then developed into the book. With her skills as an author she effectively captured me and had me enjoying her serious but light hearted approach.
More than the book itself is the excellent narration. Done by Ms. Frasier it is in perfect harmony with the mind, writing and spirit of the material. She effectively adds to the pleasure of the book by pacing her the reading and delivering the appropriate pauses to properly deliver the humor of the book. Cheers for Ms. Frasier!
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