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)
This book is not for everyone. But...if you enjoy the macabre, the bizarre, and you have a strong stomach, this audiobook is a great listen. Truly hilarious in places. But not for the squeamish. Excellent delivery too.
I could handle the details of decomposition in humans and even the detailed descriptions of the embalming process. But I turned off the book and deleted it from my Audible Manager after the lengthy and repeated detailed descriptions of cruel decapitations and other horrible tests done to animals. It's one thing to hear about the way a cadaver (who when alive willed their body to science) is used to test the effects of a car crash, but way too upsetting to hear about innocent animals being decapitated and having other animals heads sewn on and kept alive to see how their brains worked. Way too disturbing. Wish I had not downloaded this one and wish I could press a button and erase it from my memory. Where are the "men in black" when you need them? Wish there was a way to click and read all the 1 star reviews before buying a book...the way you can on Amazon. Maybe there is and I'm just missing it.
May be morbid for some, I chose this book because I am a physical therapist and benefitted during my school from use of a cadaver and have a clinical interest in the human body. I enjoyed learning some of the processes of human decomp and some of the types of injuries received in the variety of accidents. Could have totally skipped the section on how people used various cadaver parts, excrement, etc., for various cures and rituals. Overall, it was ok, narrator did a good job, but this book may not be for you if you are squeamish.
Her voice brings an intimate feel to the story.
I enjoyed some interesting facts I learned: like your skin sloughs off your hands first after your dead, or that one of the main reasons you die in a high velocity impact is that your aorta tears because it is somewhat fixed and your heart is swinging freely, or that they can figure out where you were in a plane crash depending on how much clothes your body was found wearing.
Not a book for everyone.
haven't read the print version
similar to other Roach works, so if you like her straightforward take on learning about unusual things, this is a good book for you.
So many good descriptions of her encounters with the gross...
No, I needed a break from the subject matter--dead bodies--occasionally.
Good book, good reader!
I'm an avid audible book listener. I am a huge fan of supernatural books and like stuff that is scary but well written. I live in Denver Co
I didn't finish because it was pretty graphic about what happens to a body after death but it was interesting. I did pass it on to my son who is entering medical school. He liked it!
Mary Roach's compilation on the lives of human cadavers is extremely interesting, and told with a humorous edge so as to not freak out the listener. I well done book!
Retired military. Spend my time just listening to books, when i cant handle reading.
It really is interesting and funny, and nauseatingly gross.
I don't know any other book like this.
I was nauseatingly cheerful while listening to this book
I would recommend this to any youth that is thinking seriously about a medical career.
I love audio books, fiction and nonfiction. I seem to be drawn to the Scandinavian writers and their narrators.
In the nonfiction category somewhere in the middle.
Shelly informs some of the passages with humor by her vocal timings and inflections.
It was very informative and highlighted some misconceptions I had about the subject matter.
I wasn't sure about buying this book when I read some of the previous reviews, but I liked it and will definitely recommended.
An interesting look at what happens with the body after death. Presented in a straight-forward manner, not skipping on details but not purposely gory or morbid. This book explores thinks like being donated to science, the embalming process and a general overview of the processes a body goes through. The author throws in bits of her own thinking along the way, acknowledging the touchy and sometimes squeamish subject matter at hand with wit and sometimes skepticism. You will have a chuckle or two with her along the way. Overall, a very enjoyable way to become informed on the unusual topic of the body after.
Sort of a textbook, but the kind that is interesting and not too stiff (no pun intended). Due to the educational matter and how it is formatted into specific sections, leading and building upon one another.
You get a sense of camaraderie and understanding when she expresses discomfort or a sense of just being weirded out by some of the subject matter. It makes your average Joe feel that he is not alone in his discomfort with some of the material presented in this book.
The Life of a Stiff
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