Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2003 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 303 pages
3761 Reviews
Stiff is 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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - antrat1965 - LibraryThing

I did not think I would be able to finish this book at first, because of the grisliness. But I held on and I'm glad I did. Very interesting book, but also very morbid. If you are easily made queasy by ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DeltaQueen50 - LibraryThing

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is a book that details the unique scientific contributions that the dead can provide. In straight forward, sometimes humorous, but never ... Read full review

Contents

A HEAD IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE
21
CRIMES OF ANATOMY
37
LIFE AFTER DEATH
61
DEAD MAN DRIVING
87
BEYOND THE BLACK BOX
113
THE CADAVER WHO JOINED THE ARMY
131
HOLY CADAVER
157
JUST A HEAD
199
EAT ME
221
OUT OF THE FIRE INTO THE COMPOST BIN
251
REMAINS OF THE AUTHOR
281
Acknowledgments
293
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Page 302 - Read, Bernard E. Chinese materia medica. Animal drugs. From the Pen ts'ao kang mu by Li SHIH-CHEN, AD 1597. Reprinted from Peking Natural History Bulletin, 5, part 4, 37-80 and 6, pt. i, 1-102. Published by the Peking Natural History

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About the author (2003)

Mary Roach is the author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.

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