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Stiff Audiobook

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

For two thousand years, cadavers 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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Mary Roach unzips the body bag and tells us far more than we thought we wanted to know about what happens to our bodies after we pass away. And yet somehow, she makes you want to know even more. It's like watching something repulsive but fascinating through cracks in the fingers you placed over your eyes so you wouldn't see. The author takes a deliberately humorous, academic tone as she describes these fascinating atrocities, and Shelly Frasier mirrors the author's tone perfectly. That very dry humor pervades the entire book; never cynical or condescending, never adolescent or tasteless, and it makes what could be a ghastly, repellent subject surprisingly upbeat and entertaining. Despite all that, we can't recommend that you listen to this audio book with a bunch of 11- or 12-year-old girls in the car with you, unless you enjoy hearing "Eeeew - gross!" squealed in a high-pitched voice over and over again. To some, that would be a fate worse than...well, death.

Publisher's Summary

An oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Alex Award Winner, 2004

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (4731 )
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  •  
    JOSEPH Bonners Ferry, ID, United States 09-16-11
    JOSEPH Bonners Ferry, ID, United States 09-16-11 Member Since 2010

    Joseph Brown

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers"

    I really enjoyed listening to a subject I wasn't too sure would be that good. The story was very educational and humorous, although it might be dark humor at times. The reader was very, very good. I recommend it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tyler Charlotte, NC, United States 09-13-11
    Tyler Charlotte, NC, United States 09-13-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    9
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    "Boring, and not funny."

    Interesting topic for a book, but terrible execution.

    This book is really boring, and I really struggled to finish it. The one liners by the author are also flat out terrible. They aren't funny, occur every couple of paragraphs, and after a few chapters get really, really annoying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brittany Tampa, FL, United States 09-06-11
    Brittany Tampa, FL, United States 09-06-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    4
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    "Interesting and educational... but slow"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walz Anacortes, WA, United States 09-02-11
    Walz Anacortes, WA, United States 09-02-11
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    "Fascinating!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MC 08-28-11
    MC 08-28-11 Member Since 2010

    MC

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Didn't Live Up to the Premise"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynda College Station, TX, United States 08-07-11
    Lynda College Station, TX, United States 08-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Love Mary Roach"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dynawos 07-25-11
    Dynawos 07-25-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Full of unusual and entertaining informaiton."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JMan Chicago, IL, USA 07-18-11
    JMan Chicago, IL, USA 07-18-11 Listener Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kimberly Fair Oaks, CA, United States 07-12-11
    kimberly Fair Oaks, CA, United States 07-12-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting and funny"

    You will like this if you enjoy a little dark humor mixed with real life topics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dani thayne, WY, United States 07-11-11
    Dani thayne, WY, United States 07-11-11
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    REVIEWS
    2
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    Overall
    "morbid"

    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!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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