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Stiff
Cover of Stiff
Stiff
The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Beloved, best-selling science writer Mary Roach's "acutely entertaining, morbidly fascinating" (Susan Adams, Forbes) classic, now with a new epilogue.

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 confirmation surgery, cadavers have helped make history in their quiet way. "Delightful—though never disrespectful" (Les Simpson, Time Out New York), Stiff investigates the strange lives of our bodies postmortem and answers the question: What should we do after we die?

"This quirky, funny read offers perspective and insight about life, death and the medical profession. . . . You can close this book with an appreciation of the miracle that the human body really is." —Tara Parker-Pope, Wall Street Journal

"Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting." —Entertainment Weekly

Beloved, best-selling science writer Mary Roach's "acutely entertaining, morbidly fascinating" (Susan Adams, Forbes) classic, now with a new epilogue.

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 confirmation surgery, cadavers have helped make history in their quiet way. "Delightful—though never disrespectful" (Les Simpson, Time Out New York), Stiff investigates the strange lives of our bodies postmortem and answers the question: What should we do after we die?

"This quirky, funny read offers perspective and insight about life, death and the medical profession. . . . You can close this book with an appreciation of the miracle that the human body really is." —Tara Parker-Pope, Wall Street Journal

"Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting." —Entertainment Weekly

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  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
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Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    0
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    9.4
  • Lexile:
    1230
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    8 - 11

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Mary Roach is the author of seven best-selling works of nonfiction, including Stiff, Bonk, and Gulp. Her writing has appeared in Outside, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 24, 2003
    "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.

  • Tara Parker-Pope;Wall Street Journal This quirky, funny read offers perspective and insight about life, death and the medical profession.... You can close this book with an appreciation of the miracle that the human body really is.
  • Michael Little;Washington City Paper A laugh-out-loud funny book... one of those wonderful books that offers up enlightenment in the guise of entertainment.
  • Roy Rivenburg;Los Angeles Times As weird as the book gets, Roach manages to convey a sense of respect and appreciation for her subjects.
  • Adam Woog;Seattle Times Roach is authoritative, endlessly curious and drolly funny. Her research is scrupulous and winningly presented.
  • Brian Richard Boylan;Denver Post Mary Roach is one of an endangered species: a science writer with a sense of humor. She is able to make macabre funny without looting death of its dignity.
  • Gilbert Taylor;Booklist Roach writes in an insouciant style and displays her métier in tangents about bizarre incidents in pathological history. Death may have the last laugh, but, in the meantime, Roach finds merriment in the macabre.
  • Susan Adams;Forbes Acutely entertaining, morbidly fascinating.
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    W. W. Norton & Company
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