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Publisher's Summary

Bestselling author Mary Roach explores the science of keeping human beings intact, awake, sane, uninfected, and uninfested in the bizarre and extreme circumstances of war.

Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries - panic, exhaustion, heat, noise - and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee. She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you'll never see our nation's defenders in the same way again.

©2016 Mary Roach (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Good book, can't abide the narrator

This author has a breezy, cheeky style, which I don't mind so much. However, the narrator's kindergarten-teacher delivery sends the material to a place of absurdity. I couldn't make it past a couple chapters. Better to just read this one.

82 of 90 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 12-07-16

I Usually Love Mary Roach, But--

This is just too tragic a book. What do you get when you add humor to tragedy and top it off with wide-eyed, childlike narration? Almost unendurable glibness.
I really loved "Stiff". And I thought that subject matter was serious, but it came off as enlightening, with a lot of chuckles. Roach can't carry it off here.
Everything underscores the tragedy of war: ultra-fire retardant uniforms for those in tanks, just brings to mind men trapped and burning to death. The science of RPGs and IEDs on military vehicles? Well, we all know what that means to the men, the real men, in combat. And usually I love her willingness to ask the silly questions that we always wonder about. But here we come to below-the-belt injuries, and she asks, "Didn't you wonder if your junk was still there?" The answer is: Yes, but I worried about my soldiers first. Add to that, she was probably totally in the way while she was working on the book (A submarine going to great lengths, for hours, to get her on board safely; walking in a simulated combat line where she almost gets hit by a vehicle because she had just spotted a gopher). Plus, some of her comments fell painfully, PAINFULLY, flat. A body in the water, just attacked by sharks turns into... "the demi-corpse;" a dead soldier whose extensive and horrific internal injuries? Well, his "mustache is crooked."
Just couldn't find the humor within myself to like this book. There's plenty of interesting info here, tidbits, nuggets, the archaic origins of things. But there's plenty of heartbreak too...

74 of 82 people found this review helpful

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Listen to a sample first

I love Mary Roach's books and was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately I simply can't get past the narrator. She seems extremely unsuited to this style of book. This is one I'll have to go for the ebook, or even good old fashioned paper back. I highly recommend listening to a sample before you buy this book.

52 of 58 people found this review helpful

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Audiobook reader ruins the experience

This book is borderline unlistenable. The reader is overly expressionistic and tries way to hard to overemphasize each word and phrase. Also the readers voice is scratchy with vocal fry that has me turning off the book every 10 minutes.
Do not have this reader do any more audiobooks please
PS I wanted to rate the performance less than 1 star but it wouldn't let me.
Tim

29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Good book annoying moderator

Substance of the book is good. The inflection and tone of moderator makes it almost unlistenable.

38 of 43 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • BELLINGHAM, WA, United States
  • 08-11-16

Wrong narrator

Good lord, why would you have a narrator who sounds like a third grade teacher narrate a book on war weaponry? It renders the book unlistenable.

29 of 33 people found this review helpful

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Impossible to listen to

I found this narrators voice so grating that it made it impossible for me to listen to this book. I have always truly enjoyed Mary Roach's other books, but I cannot recommend this due to the performance.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Douglas
  • Huntsville, TX, United States
  • 08-24-16

Abby, is this book the right fit for you?

I enjoyed this book's content and scholarship, but the narration was an issue for me. Abby Elvidge has a lovely speaking (reading) voice, but her inflection and tone sounded better suited for children's literature. A playful lilt on the subject of autopsies (and others) seems awkward.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Horrible Narrator

What disappointed you about Grunt?

There's is no way I can listen to this. The narrator's gravely voice and strange halting style is quite painful to listen to. I love Mary Roach's books. I haven't had any problems with previous narrators so I pre-ordered this one, assuming that I would enjoy listening to it. Do yourself a favor and don't spend a credit on this one.

Would you ever listen to anything by Mary Roach again?

Definitely, as long as someone else narrates it.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Abby Elvidge?

Any of the previous narrators of Mary Roach's books, or even Mary Roach herself.

52 of 62 people found this review helpful

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Annoying Narration

Just can't listen to this narrator. Very annoying. Love Mary Roach, but please find another reader.

60 of 73 people found this review helpful