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)
I thoroughly enjoyed the first few chapters, but found that either the narrator or the author had lost her own interest in the material for the middle 50% of the book. At first, I attributed this to my own disinterest, but I realized that the narrator's voice indicated increased interest during the last 25% of the book, and even the author's tone had become more casual and interested. Perhaps she/they were trying to treat the material respectfully, but given the dry, dark humor sprinkled throughout the book, I am skeptical.
Despite the slow pace of the middle section, all chapters were very informative. I already knew much of what they had to say about early anatomy and Body Snatchers, but the information gleaned from bodies recovered after plane crashes (naked = plane broke up midair) and those used to imitate car crashes (side collisions = devastating!) was new. If you have biological or medical interests, you will probably enjoy this book, but more lay readers may be a bit more ho-hum in their liking.
I have enjoyed this book; learned a lot and have to turn it off when my husband comes in the room. Creeps him out! The reader does a great job of displaying the curiousity and occasional UGH moments of the author.
I purchased this book because it was on sale and it looked like it would be a fun salacious summer read. Unfortunately for me, it was more documentary than reality show. The information is interesting, and it is a quick read, but I couldn't help but feel that something was missing. It felt almost as if it was an abridged book and the author often repeats similar sentiments throughout, as if the reader would forget that she was squeamish at some points. If you find the subject interesting, there are probably other books that are better. If you're new to the subject, as I was, this could be a lighter introductory/condensed guide.
Listened to this book as well as, "Spook" and loved them both. I love that her books are funny even though it makes you think beyond what you may normaly venture to go. Not gory, just though provoking!
Not a listen for everyone to be sure, but if you're into the Medical field, or are just interested in what happens to you after you pass, or donate your body to medical research........it's facinating, funny, informative, graphic, at times gruesome with a touch of the macabre.
I got through the introduction and decided not to go on. The book is written with the tone that narrative about "the lives of bugs" might be written. I found it disrespectful, and although I am a physician, I think that others would find it in poor taste.
this "book" is twisted, morbid, boring. more like a documentary about cadavers, or dead bodies. i listened for over an hour and will absolutely not finish!!
I learned alot. I found humour in the writing, but it was actually very sensitive writing for such a subject. I did skip through chapter 6, due to total boredom , and other parts were just a bit too gory for my taste.which i stopped listening to (I could have lived without the research of attaching puppy head to other dogs, gruesome and unneccessary reading/listening)
This book was hilarious at times. I actually had tears whilst driving during a couple of points.
It didn't always stay on topic, but it flowed well. The narration was great. Just enough detail to get the point across, but not too much that you want to be sick.
I would highly recommend it for some light reading on the subject.
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