Cover image for Stiff the curious lives of human cadavers
Title:
Stiff the curious lives of human cadavers
Author:
Roach, Mary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[Place of publication not identified] : Tantor Media, [2003]

â„—2003
Physical Description:
7 audio discs (480 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Unabridged.

Compact discs.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781400100972
Format :
Audiobook on CD

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
R853.H8 R635 2003D Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

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

For 2,000 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.


Author Notes

Mary Roach was born and raised in Etna, New Hampshire. She has a BA degree in psychology from Wesleyan University. She spent a few years as a free-lance copy editor before she landed a job at the San Francisco Zoological Society turning out press releases. She then moved on to write humor pieces for such periodicals as The New York Times Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle and Sports Illustrated. Her article "How to Win at Germ Warfare" was a National Magazine Award Finalist, in 1995. In 1996, her article on earthquake-proof bamboo houses took the Engineering Journalism Award. She published several books such as Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003) and Packing for Mars (2010).

Mary's title Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, made the New York Times Bestseller list in 2016.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Donating one's body to science sounds like an altruistic farewell for the betterment of humanity. Noble it may be, but most would prefer not to know what happens to a corpse in the name of research. Not our intrepid author. Some donors arrive at the expected places, such as anatomy classrooms, but would a person willingly assent to her postmortem decapitation so plastic surgeons could practice on her head unencumbered by the torso? Better not to wonder--yet Roach cheerily does as she attends to doings at medical schools, crash research labs, and mortuary schools. Her lab-coated guides seem delighted to see her come calling, which she reciprocates by praising the good that cadavers do (revealing the kinematics of car and plane crashes), along with (gulp) their appearance and olfactory condition. Roach writes in an insouciant style and displays her metier in tangents about bizarre incidents in pathological history. Death may have the last laugh, but, in the meantime, Roach finds merriment in the macabre. --Gilbert Taylor


Publisher's Weekly Review

"Uproariously funny" doesn't seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader's Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines ("The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back"), it is clear that she's taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death. Roach delves into the many productive uses to which cadavers have been put, from medical experimentation to applications in transportation safety research (in a chapter archly called "Dead Man Driving") to work by forensic scientists quantifying rates of decay under a wide array of bizarre circumstances. There are also chapters on cannibalism, including an aside on dumplings allegedly filled with human remains from a Chinese crematorium, methods of disposal (burial, cremation, composting) and "beating-heart" cadavers used in organ transplants. Roach has a fabulous eye and a wonderful voice as she describes such macabre situations as a plastic surgery seminar with doctors practicing face-lifts on decapitated human heads and her trip to China in search of the cannibalistic dumpling makers. Even Roach's digressions and footnotes are captivating, helping to make the book impossible to put down. Agent, Jay Mandel. (Apr.) Forecast: Do we detect a trend to necrophilia? Two years ago it was mummies; in the last few months we have seen an account of the journeys of the corpse of Elmer McCurdy and a defense of undertakers; and now comes Roach's disquisition on cadavers. But death is, after all, a subject that just won't go away. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Despite the irreverent, macabre title, this is a respectful and serious examination of what happens to cadavers, past and present. Salon columnist Roach explains how surgeons and doctors use cadavers donated for research purposes to help the living, and also examines potential new variations on how we bury the dead. She explores some interesting historical side avenues as well: the use of corpses to test the guillotine, earlier anatomical beliefs, grave robbers, the elixirs various civilizations concocted out of corpses for medicinal purposes, and, most important, how cadavers provided valuable information to us for understanding such plane crashes as TWA Flight 800. Roach also addresses philosophical issues. This unusual study is recommended for large public libraries and medical collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/02.]-Michael D. Cramer, Schwarz BioSciences, RTP, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Those curious or brave enough to find out what really happens to a body that is donated to the scientific community can do so with this book. Dissection in medical anatomy classes is about the least bizarre of the purposes that science has devised. Mostly dealing with such contemporary uses such as stand-ins for crash-test dummies, Roach also pulls together considerable historical and background information. Bodies are divided into types, including "beating-heart" cadavers for organ transplants, and individual parts-leg and foot segments, for example, are used to test footwear for the effects of exploding land mines. Just as the nonemotional, fact-by-fact descriptions may be getting to be a bit too much, Roach swings into macabre humor. In some cases, it is needed to restore perspective or aid in understanding both what the procedures are accomplishing and what it is hoped will be learned. In all cases, the comic relief welcomes readers back to the world of the living. For those who are interested in the fields of medicine or forensics and are aware of some of the procedures, this book makes excellent reading.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.