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Mary Roach's Curiosities

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

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A contagiously cheerful exploration of the cruel diligences executed on some of our bodies when, after death, we abandon them on the threshold of their graves, this book shows us cadavers turned into carcasses and scientific experiments, the deceased who contribute to the progress of medicine with perforated genitals and extracted eyes, flesh flung from airplanes or shot with bullets to verify the efficiency of new weapons, and discards crucified like Jesus or devoured by maggots. Mary Roach has written a book that explores the great beyond in order to show us the more visible and deplorable side of the next life.


Una exploración contagiosamente alegre de las crueles diligencias practicadas con algunos de nuestros cuerpos cuando, luego de la muerte, los abandonamos a su suerte en los umbrales de la tumba, este libro nos muestra cadáveres abiertos en canal y en el altar de la ciencia, difuntos que contribuyen al progreso de la medicina con los genitales perforados o los ojos extraídos, fiambres arrojados desde aviones o cosidos a balazos para verificar la eficiencia de nuevas armas, y despojos crucificados como Nuestro Señor o devorados por gusanos. Mary Roach ha escrito una obra que se adentra en el más allá para mostrarnos el lado más visible y deplorable de la otra vida.

304 pages

First published April 17, 2003

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About the author

Mary Roach

40 books11.6k followers
Mary Roach is a science author who specializes in the bizarre and offbeat; with a body of work ranging from deep-dives on the history of human cadavers to the science of the human anatomy during warfare.

Mary Roach is the author of the New York Times bestsellers STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; GULP: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, PACKING FOR MARS: The Curious Science of Life in the Void; BONK: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex; and GRUNT: The Curious Science of Humans at War.

Mary has written for National Geographic, Wired, Discover, New Scientist, the Journal of Clinical Anatomy, and Outside, among others. She serves as a member of the Mars Institute's Advisory Board and the Usage Panel of American Heritage Dictionary. Her 2009 TED talk made the organization's 2011 Twenty Most-Watched To Date list. She was the guest editor of the 2011 Best American Science and Nature Writing, a finalist for the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize, and a winner of the American Engineering Societies' Engineering Journalism Award, in a category for which, let's be honest, she was the sole entrant.

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5 stars
77,461 (37%)
4 stars
80,364 (38%)
3 stars
38,143 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 16,506 reviews
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,293 reviews21.7k followers
October 25, 2008
If you can’t cope with the idea of death without a hearty dose of euphemism – this probably isn’t going to be the book for you.

When I became an archivist at the City of Melbourne a very dear friend of mine became a technician at the city Morgue. I figured at the time he had watched a couple of episodes too many of Quincy M.E. and that he would find a normal job eventually. It is probably 15 years since I stopped being an archivist – my friend still cuts up dead people for a living.

A few weeks after he started work I asked him how it was all going and he replied, “Good, yeah, I can even eat spaghetti now.” Sometimes it is best not to ask.

This book is a bit of a career guide for those of us who are post-life. There are a remarkable number of interesting things one can get up to after life. Many of these choices are presented in this book in an up-close-and-personal way that I particularly enjoyed.

I’m a fairly robust character, but there were many moments when I made involuntary noises during this book. The swallowed fly was a case in point and by far the worst. The noise I made was loud enough and distressing enough for my daughters to ask what was the matter – they didn’t ask again.

Part of my friend’s job involves removing people’s brains – this is also described in some detail here. The problem is that once the brain has been removed you can’t really pop it back from whence it came – so instead it is placed in the chest cavity. This means the head needs to be ‘packed’ and generally this is done with newspaper. One of the decisions made by those putting you back together again is which newspaper would seem most appropriate for you. (I assume in these days of obsessive Orwellian Double-Speak the corpses are called clients or customers or something equally ridiculous – although I wish it was after Waugh and they were called Loved Ones.) I really don’t mind what happens to me once I’m dead – I figure I’m going to be busy enough explaining to God why He doesn’t exist to be worried about what happens to my body – but I must admit that spending eternity with my head stuffed with a Murdoch rag does seem to be a punishment disproportionate to any crime I have committed whilst alive.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 10, 2020
Fascinating, touching and surprisingly wholesome considering it's about dead bodies
Many people will find this book disrespectful. There is nothing amusing about being dead, they will say.

Ah, but there is.
Mary Roach brings cadavers into a whole new, sometimes painfully bright, light.

We follow her as she attends autopsies and medical discussions.

We learn what happens to bodies as they decompose on the field, under the field and in so, so many places.
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.
We get a bit of a history lesson with the sordid tales associated with body-snatching and the early medicine's need for atomically correct models.

We even go so far back as ancient Egypt and their secret honey recipe (you will never look at honey in the same way) (trust me).

This is one book you'd have to be dying to miss out on.
Death. It doesn't have to be boring.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,295 reviews120k followers
November 2, 2021

Mary Roach - Image from Stanford Medicine - photo by Timothy Archibald

Laugh out loud funny is the way to go if you want to learn more than you realized might be worth knowing about dead bodies. It made me greatly disposed to finding out what else Roach has written, before I become a subject for studies like this one. As you can see below, in EXTRA STUFF, I managed to do just that. Roach is now one of my favorite all time authors.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal and Twitter pages

-----Stanford Medicine - Winter 2018 - Exploring our miraculous icky parts by Paul Costello - The interview, which is a fabulous intro to Roach, covers several books, but Stiff features prominently

Here is a fun piece from the NY Times in which Mary is asked about books she didn't write. Gotta love her last line. : Mary Roach: By the Book

Other Mary Roach books we have enjoyed
-----2021 - Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law
-----2016 - Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War
-----2013 - Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
-----2010 - Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
-----2006 - Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,464 reviews9,619 followers
February 7, 2023

Omg and Grossness! I made the mistake of trying to eat a bit while reading this! Just no!

And then a part where they talk about left over skin being used for wrinkle stuff and something to do with penises. I didn't even look up the word they used. Although, now, if a penis was ever whipped out somewhere, I would have to wonder if that penis had something to do with cadaver skin!

I did have to skip over stuff due to my ewww reflex. But there is a lot of stuff I learned that I had no idea about. There is a lot of historical stuff too.

And the cadaver drive test dummies! I can't even. So if you're one that is going to donate your organs, just know that no part of your body will go to waste. Well, most of it!

Mel 🖤
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,925 reviews10.6k followers
January 23, 2012
Mary Roach writes about what happens when you donate your body to science. Hilarity ensues. Well, maybe not hilarity but it is a good dose of edutainment.

Way back around the time the earth's crust cooled and life spread across the planet, late 1994 or early 1995, I should think, I visited a chiropractic college with the rest of my Advanced Biology class. This trip was memorable to me for three reasons:
1) It was the first time I experienced an excruciating caffeine withdrawal headache
2) It was the first time I saw a human cadaver
3) I smoked five of my classmates playing pool in the student lounge at lunch.

Obviously, #2 is the one pertinent to this review, although I am still quite proud of #3. The cadaver I saw had its face covered and its skin looked shriveled, somewhat like beef jerky. My 17 year old mind briefly wondered where the man had come from before my hormone-fueled brain returned my attention to the nubile young ladies in the room. Anyway, let's get down to review business.

Mary Roach manages to take a subject that give many people the heebie-jeebies, donating one's remains to science, and makes it humorous at times. She covers such topics as learning surgical techniques via practicing on cadavers, human decomposition, ingesting human remains for medicinal purpose, using corpses in car crash tests, using cadavers for ballistics tests, crucifixion experiments, and even head transplants.

While it's not ideal meal-time reading, I didn't find it as stomach churning as some reviewers did. The talk of decomposition and quack remedies of the Middle ages were fascinating and I was really interested in the head and brain transplant experiments. Frankenstein's monster doesn't seem as unrealistic as it did yesterday.

Apparently, necrophilia is only illegal in 16 states. Imagine if that was one of your criteria when choosing a place to live. "Honey, I'd love to live in Florida but then we couldn't have our sexy parties..."

Actually, the funeral bits were also pretty enlightening. Did you know they have to suture the anus shut to keep nastiness from leaking out during a funeral? Or that dead people can fart from gas trapped in their intestines? Or that they insert special caps underneath the eyelids to keep them from suddenly opening? Fascinating stuff.

Stiff is a very interesting read for those interested in what happens when you donate your body to science, softened somewhat by Roach's sense of humor. Three easy stars.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
235 reviews205 followers
January 26, 2023
"Many people will find this book disrespectful. There is nothing amusing about being dead, they will say. Ah, but there is.”

Fascinating, funny, gruesome. This is about all the things that can happen to the human cadaver, from body snatching, and crash test dummies, to cosmetic surgery practice and disposal. Mary Roach did a ton of research on what happens to the body after someone has died. It sounds depressing, but she makes it very light and surprisingly funny. I laughed out loud a few times throughout. She also explains exactly what happens to a body in a plane crash and a car crash, the history of acquiring cadavers in the olden days, and different ways to dispose of a body besides cremation or burial.

This book was so enthralling and well-researched, I couldn’t put it down. I was never bored because she doesn't use scientific jargon. It's just entertaining and funny and informative and she does it so tastefully.

My favourite chapter is called Beyond the Black Box. It explains how scientists can recreate how a plane crash played out based on the remains of those who perished and/or the injuries of the survivors even if they do not have access to the Black Box. Other chapters cover the experiences of medical students in Gross Anatomy labs, live burial, medical cannibalism throughout history, and so much more. The author closes her book with a chapter in which she discusses how her research has shaped her personal preferences for the treatment of her body after death. Ms. Roach's investigative journalism is informative, well-researched, objective, and entertaining (her footnotes are the best).

Are you an organ donor or considering donating your body to science? Or even just going with a traditional burial? This book will give you the low down on what actually happens in each of those situations. Trust me, it's not what you think.

Highly Recommend
Profile Image for Tung.
623 reviews38 followers
July 25, 2016
In my nonfiction phase during the year, I grabbed this one and after finishing it, regretted its purchase. The book is about medical use of corpses and the human body, present-day and in the past. The subject matter is extremely interesting, and some of the methods, tests, and history behind human body experiments is worth the read. The book makes you want to be an organ donor, or want to donate your body to medical science. The problem is that the author is one of the WORST writers I have ever read to the extent that every time I picked up the book I got angry. I only finished the book because my OCD made me finish it because I’d already started it. The two irritating aspects of the book are: 1) Roach would spend a few pages describing something fascinating and then ruin it all by throwing in the snarkiest comment imaginable. For example, she’d discuss how feet are used by scientists, and then throw in a comment about her stinky socks. 2) A few years ago, a friend saw a movie about the roads to concentration camps at the Tribeca Film Festival that was atrocious because the director stuck himself into the film and made himself part of the story. That’s what this author does for the whole friggin’ book. Just awful.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,825 followers
February 7, 2017
First read of 2017 complete! It was a good one - 4.5 stars.

Who knew that a book about what happens to our bodies after we die could be so interesting. This book covers everything to the horrific to the incredibly fascinating. This book may not be for the squeamish, but I think Roach did a great job combining information and humor in a respectful manner to make it more easily accessible to a wider audience.

I recently helped to prepare a funeral plan for my Mother. She is still alive, but it was suggested that we prepare ahead of time to make sure that all wishes are met and there is no scrambling when the event happens to figure out what is wanted and where the money comes from - less stressful for all! After reading this book, I am not saying I will go back and change any of our decisions, but it definitely gave me a lot of thinking points I would not have considered and may have had an affect on how my decision making went if I had read this before the planning took place.

After death - the inanimate body lives on and something has to be done with it - read this if you want to know more!

Side note - This is my second Mary Roach (I also read Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal) and I liked this one a bit better.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,820 followers
March 11, 2011
Mary Roach details a lot of uses for human cadavers in this book, but she missed a major one. As Weekend At Bernies taught us, you can always use the corpse of your boss to scam your way into a free weekend at a beach house. That scientific research is all well and good, but there’s nothing in here at all about the best ways to simulate a life like corpse for your own selfish purposes. I learned more from Andrew McCarthy than I did reading this!

Ah, but seriously folks… This is the second book I’ve read by Roach, and I admire the way that she can take touchy and gross subjects like corpses in this one or human feces in Packing for Mars, treat them seriously but still manage to keep a sense of humor about them. While she always has one eye on the science, she never uses it to shield out the normal human responses, and this allows her to provide a clear eyed account of the uses and disposal of the dead. (One of my favorite parts involved Roach asking someone how heads were removed from cadavers for surgical practices and was told that one woman in the lab removed them all. She later met the woman who actually did the chopping and Roach admits that all she could think was, “You cut off heads!!”)

So we get treated to a gory set of stories about how science uses corpses in a variety of ways including the study of impacts for the auto industry, how a brain-dead woman’s organs are removed by a transplant team, and a field of bodies left to rot for forensic research. We also get an overview of how science has used or misused bodies to advance both legitimate research and outright quackery in the past. There’s also a long section reflecting on the best way to dispose of human remains since traditional burials and cremations are costly, environmentally harmful and wasteful.

While I found this really interesting and enjoyed Roach’s writing and approach, there were times when this book completely disgusted me, and I’ve got a pretty high tolerance for gore. One section about the history of various mad scientists grafting severed heads of dogs and monkeys onto other dogs and monkeys and actually managing to keep them alive for some time was almost too much, and I kind of wished she would have left that chapter out.

Still, this was a really interesting book. I just wouldn’t try to eat a plate of lasagna while reading it.
October 7, 2019
Plenty interesting.
How would a person wind up somewhere where bodies are studied in their putrefaction ways? Is that even mildly respectful?
I'm not built for that, that's for sure. But it's an interesting read, nonetheless.

It could be read with much more fun on public transport along with books wrapped in fake covers saying all kind of demented/apocryphal stuff such as:
- 'Proctological delights',
- 'Sacrificing virgins' (it's actually real: Sacrificing Virgins)
- '101 penis-lenghthening tips' (it's almost real: Penis Pumping 101: Best Penis Pumping Tips for Beginners,
101 Penis-Lengthening Tips You Can Do at Home, the Office, or on the Go,
Penis Genius: The Best Tips and Tricks for Working His Stick,
How to Make Your Penis Bigger? : The Proven Natural Penis Enlargement Guide for Men: Quick & Easy Exercises, Tips & Techniques to Grow Your Penis Bigger ... Penis, Penis Enlargement Exercises, Kagel) and a bunch more:) ),
- 'How to rule the universe without attracting the attention of the psychiatrists',
- 'Where one can wash on the underground',
- 'So, you have leprosy, what next?' (close: Do Diapers Give You Leprosy? What Every Parent Should Know About Bringing Up Babies),
- 'Ritual Satanism'(close: Out of Darkness: Exploring Satanism and Ritual Abuse)
- 'Human taxidermy' (close: Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy,
Personal Taxidermy,
The Warmth of the Taxidermied Animal,
Taxidermy Art: A Rogue's Guide to The Work, The Culture, and How to Do It Yourself... I'm scared! There are dozens of books on 'home taxidermy', goshy-gosh!),
- 'Chess and sex edu for teens' (this one's even better: Sex Ed. for the Undead: The First Ever Zombie Sex Position Book),
- 'Hiding your boner from God' (close: Hiding Your Erection from GOD),
- 'How to tell you wife you're a serial killer',
- 'Boobs and how to grow them'
- 'How to drink daily, smoke weed, fuck random people, stop worrying and influence people'

and some real books with eye-boggling headings:
- 'How to Avoid a Wombat's Bum' How to Avoid a Wombat's Bum
- 'How to avoid huge ships' How to Avoid Huge Ships
- 'Do It Yourself Brain Surgery' Do It Yourself Brain Surgery!
- 'How to avoid sex' How to Avoid Sex
- 'How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You' How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You
- 'Confessions of a Pagan Nun' Confessions of a Pagan Nun
- 'Greek rural postmen and their cancellation numbers' Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers
- the whole lot about the 'nude mice': Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Nude Mice, Scanticon, Aarhus, Denmark, October 11th - October 13th, 1973,
Proceedings of the Third International Workshop on Nude Mice, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, September 6-9, 1979, Immunology of Nude Mice,
Nude Mice: And Other Medical Writing Terms You Need to Know
- 'Six-Legged Sex: The Erotic Lives Of Bugs' Six-Legged Sex: The Erotic Lives of Bugs
- 'The Sex Lives of Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography' The Sex Lives of Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography
- 'How To Shit In The Woods' How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art
- 'Where No One Can Hear You Scream' Where No One Can Hear You Scream: Murder and Assault in the Wicklow Mountains
- 'How To Shit Around the World' How to Shit Around the World: The Art of Staying Clean and Healthy While Traveling
- 'Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them' Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them: How to Keep Your Tractors Happy and Your Family Running
- 'Big And Very Big Hole Drilling'
- 'Proctology Treasure' Proctology Treasure
- 'Living with Crazy Buttocks' Living with Crazy Buttocks
- 'Teaching the dog to read' Teaching the Dog to Read
- 'Teaching the dog to think' Teaching the Dog to Think
- How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes
- How To Tell Your Cat About Trump
- 'Ass eating made simple' Ass Eating Made Simple
and other fun stuff :)

This book might enrich that legendary list :) Yes, I admit I collect weird stuff like this.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
March 29, 2022
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers details the unique scientific contributions of the deceased. For two thousand years, cadavers – some willingly, some unwittingly – have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. the useful functions that the human body provides to the living world, from medical experiments to various applications in transportation security research, and forensic scientists' research on the classification of different rates of decomposition of corpses. Chapters of the book also deal with cannibalism, methods of extermination (burial, cremation, etc.), and beating heart corpses used in organ transplants.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و ششم ماه فوریه سال2022میلادی

عنوان: جسد: سرگذشت عجیب کالبد بی‌جان آدمیزاد؛ نویسنده: مری روچ؛ مترجم: رضا اسکندری‌آذر؛ ویراستار: سیاوش صفری؛ تهران، نشر نون، سال1400؛ در267ص؛ شابک9786226652469؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده21م

نویسنده ی کتاب «مِری روچ» در کتاب «جسد»، نگاهی به سرگذشت اجساد در سده های متمادی میاندازند، و داستان کالبدمان را پس از آ��که آن را ترک میکنیم، بازگو میکنند؛ «روچ» به کارکردهای مفیدی که جسد انسان به دنیای زندگان ارائه میکند؛ از آزمایشهای پزشکی گرفته تا کاربردهای گوناگون در پژوهشهای مربوط به امنیت «حمل و نقل»، و پژوهشهای دانشمندان پزشکی قانونی، در رابطه با دسته بندی سرعتهای گوناگون تجزیه ی جسدها میپردازند؛ فصلهایی از کتاب همچنین به آدمخواری، روشهای از بین بردن جسد (دفن، سوزاندن، و غیره)، و جسدهایی «با قلب تپنده» که در پیوند عضو مورد استفاده بوده اند، میپردازند؛ خانم «مری روچ» با بینشی شگفت انگیز و جذاب و سبکی بسیار خواندنی، سرگذشت جسد انسان را در درازای تاریخ به تصویر میکشند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 08/01/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Jay Green.
Author 4 books234 followers
April 15, 2018
I'm a compulsive buyer of Mary Roach's books. Part of the reason is research for my own books, of course, part of it is fascination, thanks to her astute choice of subjects, and part of it is simply enjoyment, derived from her clear prose and tales well told. In this case, I read Stiff just after my father passed away, so I was trying to make sense of his loss while trying to come to terms with the brute reality of death. It helped a great deal, as I anticipated it would, largely down to Roach's sympathetic and informative tone. It was like being taken through a morgue by a thoughtful friend.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,538 followers
May 6, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Cadavers are our superheroes: They brave fire without flinching, withstand falls from tall buildings and head-on car crashes into walls. You can fire a gun at them or run a speedboat over their legs, and it will not faze them. Their heads can be removed with no deleterious effect. They can be in six places at once.”

If you know me, you already know that I have a different sort of relationship with the dead. You know, the kind where you dress them up . . .

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and play offensive hilarious games with them . . .

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Obviously once I heard about Stiff it had to go right to the top of my TBR. In all honesty, I was expecting something just a smidge more entertaining than my high school biology book. You know, the kind of book only a morbid weirdo like myself could truly enjoy. To say I was pleasantly surprised is the understatement of the year.

Most of us are already familiar with the potential a cadaver has to continue on after his expiration date . . .

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Stiff takes it to a whole new level, covering just about every potential “career” one can have after death . . .

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^^^^ Yes, please.

As well as tackling everything from burial to composting as a potential “disposal” method. Not to mention dealing with the more taboo subjects that relate to the dead . . .

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As a bonus, all of the above subject matter was written about with such charm and humor that I found myself LOLing for real at times. Mary Roach is the type of gal I’d like to have a drink with. Not only was she able to write about “stiffs” with a sense of humor, she also shamelessly owned up to her own oddities . . .

“I ask whether he thinks it’s bad that I like the smell, which I don’t really, or maybe just a little. He replies that it is neither bad nor good, just morbid.”

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If reading a “smart people book” (a/k/a non-fiction) is something you’d like to do more of, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is one I’d highly recommend.
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews895 followers
January 27, 2020
3,5* - this was a pretty interesting and entertaining read. It felt a bit repetitive at times but it made up for that with being quite humorous.
Profile Image for Lissa.
86 reviews7 followers
September 27, 2007
I bought this book when I first taught my class that has a foresnic anthropology component. I thought I could pick out a chapter of this book to assign to them, and it would be a nice, informative, lay-person account that would be entertaining, yet informational. However, due to time constraints, I never got around to reading the book. In that time, several people have borrowed and returned this book to me, so my copy is a bit tattered and dog-eared, as if I'd read it many times. I can safely say, having read it once, that I will not be going back to read it again.

Stiff is a non-fiction, "science" writing book. Roach chronicles the different processes that happen to a human being after it dies. Each chapter tackles a different possible outcome for a person's corpse. She goes through chapters about anatomy labs, decay, crash-test and military trials (for safer vehicles, or more effective bullets), plane crashes, transplants, burial and cremation, and even cannibalism. The material for this book is endlessly fascinating and I feel like it has a lot of potential.

That being said, I find Mary Roach's style of writing intensely irritating, which took away from the overall effectiveness of the narrative. Much of her writing is sort of falsely funny, as if she is very intentially trying to inject humor into a situation through the use of ridiculous asides that do nothing to add information or further her point.

She also continually resorts to forced bathroom and genetalia jokes in order to articially infuse the book with humor. On many occasaions, she asks the scientists she interviews about what happens specifically to penile tissues. She then describes the patient if annoyed air that some of the scientists take with the assumption that the readers will all be tittering with her on her side. Well, I'm sorry, I'm with the scientists. I find that kind of thing immature and irrtating, like many of the jokes in this book. The last way that she commonly tries to inject humor into her writing is by pretending squeamishness for the sake of her readers.

What kills me about this is that there are parts of the book that are legitimateuly funny, where the humor is not forced but just found in the situation. There is a description of her first visit to a very small town in China that strong reminded me of some of my problems getting around in small towns in various African countries. There is also a funny commentary about a woman who volunteers to get multiple pap smears so that future ObGyns can practice (a job that I hope pays very. very. well). Additionally, there is some really interesting information in this book. I knew a lot about the use of bodies to determine what happened in plane crashes and the sort of things that happen in gross anatomy labs. But did you know that males and females have slightly different EEG profiles? And, after a heart transplant, those do not change. Also, did you know that there have been many proven ways to make riding in aircrafts safer, including shoulder harness seat belts, more emergency exits, sprinkler systems and side airbags for impact, but none of these are being implemented because the airlines don't want to have to incur the extra costs? There are plenty of little factoids like these that are quite interesting.

The bottom line for me was that there was simply not enough actual science in this science book. I've read plenty of popular science books that have managed to do a much better job walking the line between entertainment for the layperson and providing good information. As far as book that tell stories about cadavers, I would recommend any of the popular science books by William Bass or Douglas Ubelaker over this book as both fascinating and more informative.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,967 followers
March 14, 2019
I never guessed I would want to know about what happens to a dead body after it ... dies. But here I am, reading and now reviewing a book on just that.

Was it funny? Sometimes. Was it gross? Sometimes! But was it deeply FASCINATING?

Yeah, I guess it was.

It really wasn't too deep on the science bits, actually, not spending too much time on the actual bugs in your gut partying down on the glut of the you-buffet, but it did have plenty of eyewitness accounts of morgues and the everyday lives of the folks there. Plus the military outfits that used bodies for ballistics research. And let's not forget about the second half of the book that goes into the really funky stuff.

You know, like methods of disposal of your earthly remains from a historical standpoint. Oh, you wacky Resurrectionists. Or my personal favorite modern (and hopefully soon-to-be-legal for you, soon) composting farms!

Look, seriously, folks, I think it's a wonderful idea. First I get freeze-dried, shattered into hamburger-sized chunks, then I GO ON TO FEED THE PLANTS FOR REAL.

Like, for real, for real. Since ashes are pretty much worthless for that and getting buried is a joke when you think about it, getting turned into mulch so that you ACTUALLY return your nutrients back to nature is a BEAUTIFUL gesture.

Where can I sign up? I mean, donating my body to science is great and all, but the poetry of getting mulched is TOO MUCH FOR ME.

My daughter to my granddaughter: "Your grandfather helped grow this grove of apple trees."

"I thought he was a writer of Science Fiction who rarely went out of the city?"

"Oh, I mean it literally, sweetie. After we mulched him and spread him across the land, he literally helped grow these!"

"But not with his own two hands."

"Oh, no, we used those, too."

"You don't understand me!"

"I want to grow roses. Pink ones."

Profile Image for Amanda NEVER MANDY.
454 reviews98 followers
July 17, 2018
A while back I told my husband I really wanted to read this book. I went on and on about how it received great reviews and at the time he seemed extremely interested.

Let’s pause right here so I can explain his levels of interest and how to read them:

NOT INTERESTED – Changes subject at end of the convo and/or walks away.

KIND OF INTERESTED – Nods at end of the convo like he might have listened.

INTERESTED – Brief eye contact and a nod or two during the convo.

EXTREMELY INTERESTED – Total eye contact and verbally interacts throughout convo.

I was obviously wrong about his level of interest because he ended up purchasing a different book by the same author. I guess maybe he was only kind of interested instead of extremely, which means I now have to reevaluate how I read his levels of interest. You would think after a gazillion years together I would have this shit figured out.


I did read the other book he purchased first and I enjoyed it (see other review) which made me super excited to read this one. Reading up on facts is kind of my jam and topics about death have always caught my eye because I have a touch of the morbid curiosity. I figure it is a part of life so why not study up on it like you do with anything else you have to eventually experience. Knowledge is power and all that BS.

The author did a fantastic job of presenting the cold rigid facts with her unique sense of humor. My only complaint is with my content expectations versus reality. I thought this book would be more about what happens to our bodies after we die, the process of handling and disposing of said body and what all that entails. This book seemed to focus more on what happens when you donate your body to science. I didn’t reduce the rating for this because as a boyfriend breaking up with you says, “It wasn’t you, it was me”.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,931 reviews3,402 followers
March 14, 2019
I've never been squeamish. From when I was a little girl I wanted to know how things work. And "things" were also living organisms. Not that I killed off animals to cut them up, mind you, but I started reading non-fiction books very early on and love books about anatomy as much as suspenseful novels about Jack the Ripper to this day. Therefore, the cover and title of this book instantly appealed to me and I'm pleased to report that the author had a very good way of blending facts with an amicable writing style that was simultaneously precise and slightly humorous (though never in an inappropriate way).

Mary Roach takes us on a journey through the history of medicine. We learn about "cures" from all over the world (including but not limited to placentas and aborted fetuses for a better skin - and you wouldn't believe all the stuff Westerners did, it wasn't just the Chinese) as well as funeral practices through the ages (since it's been 16 years!!! since she mentioned the alternative to cremation, I will definitely check out if there are any news on that front). We thus learn how humans in general learned about anatomy, how that changed our understanding of life and death and how we are still sometimes influenced by romantic (and illogical) views today.
This directly ties into human culture around the world and I liked the author all the more for pointing out that what seems strange to us doesn't have to be for others. I'm not sure I agree about the chapter regarding eating dogs vs eating cows but I get what she was trying to say and I was reminded of the German proverb "In der Not frisst der Teufel sogar Fliegen" ("In dire times, the devil even eats flies") which made the excursion into cannibalism so interesting.

Most interestingly, for me, was Tennessee. I knew about the university there and its project to help forensics by having the "Body Farm" where several human cadavers are kept in various places in different stages of decomposition and loved that she included it in this book as well. Some might say "yuck" or "ew" but nobody can deny how important forensics are so this is important work and we should be glad there are some people willing to do it!

Equally, though not having known about it before, I was quite intrigued about the Swedish project for human compost. I know the Innuit have the mentality of giving their bodies back to nature (though they are often eaten by polar bears consequently so that's a little different at least), but to actively use dead humans as compost ...

The thing is, you can still have a memorial service, but what happens to the body needs to be sustainable when looking at our growing numbers and it should benefit us humans and the planet if at all possible. And if a loved one wants a special place to remember the deceased, why not use a familiar and important spot? You don't show love and grief by spending more money than anybody else on a wooden casket that rots anyway, flowers that will wilt or by buying a grave or even crypt. Moreover, once again, this sort of thing just isn't sustainable (it also doesn't matter if you are an ecofriendly person or not, it's just a fact).

Personally, I especially liked the chapter about organ donation or giving your body to science after your death because why not? I myself am an organ donor, but I'll definitely also look into donating my body to science if that is possible here. Anything's better than just uselessly rotting or being burnt to ash which benefits nobody but the funeral industry. And let's face it: you won't care once you're dead because you'll be gone.

In fact, there is an ongoing debate in my family about this. I, personally, find most funerals disgusting because they are not about the dead but the living. People showing off clothes and who cries loudest and who bought the most opulent flower arrangement. Later, there is constant arguing over who takes care of the grave and who pays for what. And what for??? If your body can serve to make cars safer or doctors better at their work or your organs can save a life or even several - WHY AREN'T WE ALL DOING THAT?! Because of sensitivities and religion and other stupid notions just like them. Honestly, we should be better by now.

The author is right: crash dummies will only get you so far, just like certain animal bodies (and how sick is it that we are impious when it comes to animals but not when we're talking about the animal homo sapiens?). Theoretical knowledge, too, will not sufficiently serve a doctor-in-training. I understand why someone would prefer their body to be used to cure cancer instead of helping plastic surgeons but so many scientific breakthroughs came from a corner we didn't expect and whether we're talking about removing gall stones or correcting the angle of a nose, it is surgery so why not help fellow humans?

One other thing: I'm all for treating a body on the table with some respect but people tend to take even that way too far and I was negatively surprised how common that is even amongst doctors and scientists!

You can see, it is a very interesting topic to me and so many others (like religion for example) have influenced pathology and continue to do so (for the moment at least) so I'm sure many will have vastly different views on this topic. Not that I care. I hope we will continue to develop new ways and to look into what is possible (hands up who enjoyed the chapter about those experiments with severed heads *grins*) so we can evolve further still and maybe shed stupid superstitions.

And yes, I've been meaning to finally get to "Körperwelten" (the exhibition of specially prepared REAL human and animal bodies) by Gunther von Hagen. I see nothing morbid or wrong with it but regard it as a unique opportunity to see the inside of different bodies. Bonus to the author for mentioning von Hagen and his work as well.

A very well-written book full of facts that were presented in a humane way. The author put a lot of effort into this and I learned some very interesting facts. And like I said in the beginning of this review: while the writing style was respectful, she laced it with just enough slight humour here and there to make reading this book very enjoyable indeed.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,339 reviews1,629 followers
September 11, 2015
There was not a single zombie in this whole book!!

Mary Roach writes books about some interesting topics. This is the one that most interested me, though on finishing I realized that I also had "Packing For Mars," which I think will likely get read sooner rather than later, now that I've finally got around to reading one of her books and have really enjoyed her style. She brings a bit of levity and a healthy sense of the absurd to topics that most of us can go a full lifetime avoiding even thinking about.

I find myself having to be a bit of a messenger-killer though, because, while I get that she was being thorough in reporting on the history of anatomy and scientific discovery and experimentation regarding the body, all of the stuff about the animal experimentation just really bothered me. Like, a lot. I think that I'm already like 92.3% misanthropic, and all the "Hey, let's take the head off of a monkey and graft it onto a different monkey and see what happens!" stuff probably raised that to like 95.9%. If I had to guesstimate. I can understand if we're trying to understand and DO something. Experimentation is needed. Practicing some things, like grafting together veins and arteries to reattach limbs or do transplants, is vital, and since people are generally hesitant about being the guinea pigs... real guinea pigs are needed. I can understand that.

But some of these experiments are just... frivolous god-playing, in my opinion. It doesn't serve a purpose in the long run, for people or animals, and is just done because it can be, because there's no compelling reason not to, and they were "doing science".

Then there are some little quirky writing things that kind of annoyed me, like Roach's tendency to get off-track and ramble on about a side topic for a bit too long before getting back to the interesting topic she interrupted with her anecdote or sidebar story.

And so, I drop a star for these things. But only one, because the rest of the book is great. There are some insights in this book that really made me stop and think. For instance, laws against necrophilia in Nevada were more complete and specific than rape laws in the US: “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Until January 1, 2013 that is, when rape was redefined as: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” (Per FBI.gov.)

Then there's the statistics of just how man lives can be saved by doing crash test experiments on actual human cadavers. Or how squeamish and prudish people can be about dead bodies.

I am not a religious or spiritual person. To me, everything in this book related to putting cadavers to use made perfect sense. I've been an organ donor for as long as I've had the ability to check the box when renewing my drivers license. If I die, take anything useful and give it to anyone who needs it. I can't use them anymore, why should I keep them? Sentimentality? I've had discussions with people who say that they'd "never!" check that organ donor box on their license because EMTs and doctors "won't try as hard" to save organ donors. To which I call bullshit. They aren't going to check your ID for the indicator before deciding whether to give you CPR, and they probably aren't the ones who would determine whether your squishy insides are even viable options for donation. Plus, the purpose of that kind of transplant would be to save a life, right? And your life is right there, waiting to be saved, while a potential organ recipient is a spot on a list and probably not bleeding out in front of them.

Check the organ donor box. They'd try to save you if you need it. I promise.

If they don't, haunt the shit out of them.

Anyway, as I was saying. In my mind, it makes no sense at all for a perfectly good body to just rot in a hole somewhere, or be incinerated. It can do something worthwhile. Maybe try out the newest seatbelt or airbag technology, or safety harness gear for people who work on insanely high platforms, like the guys who have to fix antennas on building or something. Or maybe they could be used for teaching the next crop of doctors how to actually perform the procedures they are supposed to do. If they botch it their first time out (or second or third or fourth), wouldn't you want that to be a practice run on a cadaver who isn't going to know or care, rather than on you?

The section about the soul was lost on me, because, well, as I said, I'm not much of a spiritual type person. I don't really give that kind of thing much thought. That being said, I think it's pretty silly to claim traits have "followed" an organ from the donor to the recipient. The claim that a donor heart made the recipient into a sex fiend or made the recipient feel like a teenager and want to drive fast cars and listen to loud music is pretty outlandish. My theory is that the recipient has just been given a healthy heart (or whatever) and suddenly has a new lease on life, and wants to make the most of it. The simplest explanation is usually the right one.

Another thing that I thought was kind of silly was Dr. Oz being quoted several times in this book. As an expert, not a TV celebrity quack. I'm sorry, I live in 2015. I just can't take this guy seriously. He's a joke who got rich on daytime TV by exploiting people and selling them bullshit and lies. If he was an actual legit doctor at some point, he's lost any credibility he might have had. I was actually really surprised to see his name in this book. It seemed so rational otherwise. But this, really?: "[L]ife and death is not a binary system. [...] In between life and death is a state of near-death, or pseudo-life. And most people don't want what's in between."

Uhhhh, right, Dr. Oz. If you say so. You're the "expert".

The section about ingesting human flesh or secretions for health benefits was pretty yucky, but otherwise I didn't think that this book was distasteful or gross at all. I really thought that the anatomy and decomposition research sections were fascinating, as well as the black box death investigator guy. I also learned quite a lot about the funereal business, which probably shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did... but I guess it's just not something that I've had cause to think about (and hopefully won't yet for a while).

I actually appreciated the journalistic detachment mixed with first-hand experience that Roach brought to this. It definitely gave it a lot of credibility in my mind. I think she asked good questions, better questions, if maybe a bit different, than I would have asked.

All in all, I think that this was interesting and informative, and it's made me want to explore my post-life options a little bit more. There's a lot of them available now, but there still seems to be a stigma about remains being dealt with in non-traditional ways... or maybe that's just because of where I am, with the prevailing Catholic notions in the area.

I'd be perfectly happy being composted via an organic burial pod so I'd be tree-food.
Profile Image for Athena.
25 reviews
July 17, 2007
Well, I am half way through this and it has turned into a huge disappointment. What started out to be a funny depiction on what happens to donated cadavers, has taken a turn for the horrible. By the 6th or 7th chapter, the author showed what I can only equate to laziness and added commentary on subjects not pertaining to her once appreciated topic. I now find myself skipping over entire pages due to the lack of interest her writing presents and the tangents on which she goes; this I image done for two reasons 1) She needed filler and 2) She thought that by adding humor to the book that it would deflect some of the gore...not so. It gets 2 stars b/c it started off well, but sadly enough, I may not even finish this one.

***** UPDATE *****

Okay, so I can't really say I finished reading this book, because I didn't. All I can say to sum it up is it sucked. I am that person who cannot put a book down once I have committed myself to a least half of it because I have a hard time leaving things undone, sort of speak. But this book was impossible for me to finish and I cannot understand why it became a best seller. Anyway, save your money and pass this one up.

Profile Image for Lynx.
198 reviews79 followers
February 26, 2018
Loved this one! Mary Roach brings enjoyment to the macabre in this extremely educational book. Everything you wanted (and some things you didn't want to) know about the life of a cadaver. Packed with laugh-out-loud humour and interesting facts on every page, you'll be sad as it reaches the end. So check this book out and learn all about the exciting life your own body could have after death!
Profile Image for Jim.
365 reviews90 followers
November 9, 2013
In spite of the macabre topic, Mary Roach must have had a ball doing her footwork for this book. Not happy to glean her information from published sources, Mary travelled extensively to conduct her research, and had doors opened for her that I doubt get opened very often. Let's face it, when your job requires you to work with the dead the average Joe already thinks you're a ghoul, so it follows that you would be very cautious about allowing someone, a reporter no less, to observe you at your work. I think that her fair and open-minded approach probably broke down barriers very quickly,

Mary, you see, is not the squeamish type. She is perfectly willing to stroll around a field of rotting corpses or sniff a shovelful of composting human in order to obtain not only information but sensation and experience. Certainly some work was done in the library - she covers a good deal of the history of the uses and abuses of dead people, with corpses being used for everything from uncomplaining patients for the instruction of cosmetic surgeons to dangling about as test subjects for new military munitions - but the majority of Mary's work was done on site at the labs, clinics and mortuaries where dead people tend to congregate. The result is a fair and honest look at the dead, how we have used them in the past and what we may have to do in the future in order to dispose of the millions of people who will be expiring daily.

The book has every right to be sombre. It isn't. In fact, Ms Roach approaches the subject with a form of reverent humor that entertains the reader but does not disparage the departed. This is a respectful and thorough treatment of the topic. I hereby declare that this is one of the best books I have read this year, and I further declare that Ms Roach is one writer I would love to hoist a pint with some day...I have no doubt she could relate many a fascinating anecdote that didn't make it into print.
Profile Image for Mindy.
271 reviews
January 2, 2009
Mary Roach didn't strike me as funny or witty, just annoying. She's like the wise ass class clown in the back row, heckling the teacher and distracting everyone from an otherwise fairly decent lecture. Only she's supposed to be the teacher, too. What was her point? To talk about dead bodies or impress herself with her own juvenile jokes?

On a professional note, Roach seems awfully distrustful of librarians. Does she really think the circ clerk at a medical library thinks she's freaky for checking out books on dead people? Does she really think he even cares? Does she really think a librarian is going to mistake her PubMed search as porn and bust her? Too bad, because her "facts" like "a dozen websites say..." and "when I googled this I found out..." make me think she has the research prowess of a cadaver. Roach could use a good librarian, who could help her improve her search skills and also help her find the next open mic night to practice her shtick.

Skip this book. Stick to Six Feet Under.
Profile Image for Erica.
1,328 reviews435 followers
March 28, 2016
I really ought to have read this sooner. I'm not sure what happened and why it took me so long to get this information into my brain.

This is a book about what happens to dead bodies. It's an older title and some of the information therein has changed (Spoiler alert: there are now six? body farms in the US, I think. And the Swedish lady has not been as instrumental as hoped in burying the dead via compost, more's the pity because I totally want to compost myself! There is currently, however, a woman in CA who is trying to bring body compost to popularity and I am all on board!) but it's still incredibly fascinating to find out what we, in America, do with the all our dead bodies and what have been done to corpses historically, and how our opinions on death and the remains have changed in a rather short period of time.

Covered herein:
-What your corpse can expect as a medical donation;
-What happens when you're buried versus cremated;
-Other options available for getting rid of your remains;
-What other people have done with their dead throughout history;
-And much, much more!

Keep in mind, this was written by a journalist and not by someone in the medical or deathical profession so if you're hoping for in-depth anatomy discussions, you may be disappointed. Also, if you're the type who feels death should only ever be treated with the utmost respect and honor, you may want to steer clear as, at times, she is mildly irreverent, which, of course, I loved. Only once did I think she bordered on downright disrespectful and I don't even remember what it was that made me feel that way so, obviously, not a huge deal if you're not easily offended by joking around a bit in regard to death and dead bodies.

Profile Image for Krystin | TheF**kingTwist.
466 reviews1,729 followers
September 8, 2022
Book Blog | Bookstagram

Honestly, I am not a science-brained kind of person. Or history. Or geography. Or math. Or...


With that in mind, the author makes scientific topics, experimentation and the history of anatomy and scientific discovery, easy enough for this dumb-dumb to understand. And even find funny! Roach imbues her writing with a flirtatious tone that kicks the textbook-y vibe right out of all the brainy stuff.

It walked the line between informative, engaging and darkly delightful. And there are great sections in this book that will make you think and examine your opinions.

That said, there’s also a part of this book about souls that I found kind of silly and eye-roll worthy. The fact that souls were even included in a book based on cadaver science is kind of weird. Especially when you start getting into things like the donor organ transferring “traits” of the “soul” it came from into the recipient. “I got a new heart and it made me a sex addict!” No, you had a brush with death and the psychological ramification of that, combined with knowing someone else’s heart is in your body, has just fucked you up. Stop cheating on your wife and get some therapy!

Anyway, I’m not typically a super squeamish person, except for that part in Hostel where he slashes the dude's ankles…

…but the whole part about animal testing just made me want to scream. Head transplants on monkeys just to see what happens? I will burn this place to the ground!!!

I have a huge, huge, Huge, HUGE problem with animal testing. Anything that is alive and cannot consent, should be left the fuck alone.

This was fun and educational and eye-opening. There’s much to be absorbed from this. It even gave me some options to consider for what happens to me after I die… If I ever do! Muahahahahahahhsdgffg *cough, choking*… (But seriously, become an organ donor.)

⭐⭐⭐⭐ | 4 stars
August 20, 2015

R, is for Roach

3.5 Stars

HUM-ANE: adjective: humane; comparative adjective: humaner; superlative adjective: humanest
1. having or showing compassion or benevolence. "regulations ensuring the humane treatment of animals"

synonyms: compassionate, kind, considerate, understanding, sympathetic, tolerant;

How is it that a species with a history ripe with abuse and mistreatment of animals has come to use a word so similar to that species title to describe the very thing history proves us not to be?! ARROGANCE.

The above is just food for thought, not something Roach broaches in Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. In this book you will find many different uses for a human body after that body is no longer occupied. And to say it is fascinating is the understatement of the year. While some may call this morbid, I simply found it a scientific, at times humorous, and an extremely interesting read.

As a species we have this almost innate fear of death. If you were to do a study of fears you would in fact learn that ‘Death’ is the most common fear that exists. I find this preposterous, death is inevitable. What we really fear isn’t death itself (at least for the most part); it is the act of ‘dying’ and the pain and hardship that comes with living in a body you KNOW is failing you. Death isn’t scary, DYING is scary.

This book also isn’t about that. ( I should really stop talking about things this book ISN’T about) This book is about the serious scientific advancements that have come about owing to the use of the cadaver. And our history is full of horrible instances of grave-robbing, non-consensual cadaver use and even murder when it comes to furthering science or scientific advancements by using the body of a person who can no longer object. Some of these uses, naturally, are horrifying. Some of the stories and snipits from history are deeply unsettling. There are a couple chapters I wouldn’t advise eating before, after or during (I.e. the one on human cannibalism) but for the most part Roach has a witty, interesting non-fiction that manages to be illuminating and funny at the same time.

Now I will answer the question that crosses probably every reader's mind, and certainly crossed (and is shared) Roach's mind, what about you:

My answer is similar to hers actually, I will - provided they want them - be at very least an organ donor on this I will firmly stand, to the devil with my family or loved ones' squeamishness if I can save lives. I will however leave the final call on donating my body to science pending my survivors wishes. I will be dead, they will be the ones living with that not me.

Category: A Non-Fiction Book

Profile Image for Maede.
275 reviews396 followers
May 25, 2022
جنازه‌. در ذهن من این کلمه کنار ترس، غم، دفن، مرگ، سردی و بوی بد قرار می‌گرفت. اما حالا بعد از تمام کردن این کتاب این لیست خیلی طولانی‌تر شده. برای کسانی مثل من که جنازه‌ها و داستان بدن پس از مرگ همیشه براشون جالب بوده، این کتاب دوازده فصل بسیار خواندنی داره

قلم نویسنده شوخ‌طبعی خاصی داره که دقیقاً مناسب چنین موضوعیه. موضوعی که در نهایت هر چقدر هم که بخوای با دید علمی و تاریخی بهش نگاه کنی، تداعی کننده‌ی بزرگترین ترس بشر، یعنی مرگه

:برای توضیح کتاب بهترین کار به نظرم شرح مختصری از اینه که هر فصل به طور کلی به چی می‌پردازه

فصل یک: استفاده از سر جنازه برای تمرین ��راحی پلاستیک

فصل دو: تاریخچه تشریح جنازه و جنازه دزدی؛ نگاه تاریخی به مسئله تشریح جنازه

فصل سه: فساد جسد، مراحل و دلایل

فصل چهار: استفاده از اجساد برای آزمایش‌های امنیت خودرو

فصل پنج: استفاده از اجساد برای تعیین علت و چگونگی سوانح هوایی

فصل شش: استفاده از اجساد برای آزمایش‌ تاثیر سلاح‌های جنگی

فصل هفت: آزمایش به صلیب کشیدن (آزمایشی برای اثبات یا رد نحوه‌ی به صلیب کشیده شدن مسیح)

فصل هشت: جنازه‌هایی با قلب تپنده؛ داستان دفن انسان‌های زنده و جستجوی علمی برای یافتن روح

فصل نه: قطع سر و جراحی پیوند سر

فصل ده: آدم‌خواری پزشکی؛ خوردن جنازه برای مصارف درمانی

فصل یازده: راهکارهای جدید خلاص شدن از دست اجساد(کامپوست شدن!)

فصل دوازده: نویسنده دوست داره برای جنازه‌اش چه اتفاقی بیوفته؟

به جز اطلاعات خیلی جدیدی که از این کتاب گرفتم که به خاطر خاص بودن موضوع اصولاً آدم اتفاقی بهشون بر نمی‌خوره، باعث شد که در مورد این مرحله‌ی پس از مرگ برای خودم فکر کنم. اینکه چی می‌خوام و چی نمی‌خوام؟
فکر می‌��نم همون‌طور که نویسنده میگه به جز در مورد اهدای عضو، اینکه چه اتفاقی برای جسد می‌افته بیشتر برای بازماندگان مهمه تا فردی که دیگه در اون بدن نیست. این مرحله در سوگواری آدم‌ها و اینکه چطور غمشون رو پشت سر می‌گذارن مهمه، پس به نظر میاد برای خیلی از افراد تصمیم اون‌ها شاید به تصمیم خود فرد ارجحیت داره
باید بیشتر در موردش فکر کنم

M's Books :کتاب و صوتیش
ریویو با چند ماه تأخیر
Profile Image for Richard.
1,139 reviews1,026 followers
January 20, 2018
Opening paragraph:
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. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much happens, and nothing is expected of you.
If you read this book, you will undoubtedly have many “ick” moments (especially in the chapter about eating the dead, but there’s also that footnote about necrophilia on page 43...), but you should have even more laugh-out-loud moment, and maybe a few bemuse-the-other-bus-riders when you groan and laugh simultaneously, especially if they see the cover of the book.

Roach as a writer delights in the subtle twist creeping into the prose, the textual double-take. An excellent example is the first paragraph of Chapter Three:
Out behind the University of Tennessee Medical Center is a lovely, forested grove with squirrels leaping in the branches of hickory trees and birds calling and patches of green grass where people lie on their backs in the sun, or sometimes in the shade, depending on where the researchers put them.
Isn’t it splendid the way she paints the bucolic scene, so typical of an introductory paragraph? Almost like the copy for a university marketing brochure. And then... you remember what this book is about.

Roach does occasionally rein in her curiosity, but only with an effort, and only after telling us where she almost took us. By that point, we are usually grateful for the mercy.

It is easy to imagine her as a child running into the house with a handful of squirming worms asking Mom “Are these good for eating? They tickle your tongue! I saw birds feeding them to their babies! Can I feed them to my little sister?”

I think Mary Roach makes the world a more lively place, and I’m glad she writes this stuff. But don’t read this book while eating, especially not rice crispies or chicken soup.
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868 reviews1,095 followers
January 13, 2015
Stiff is a book that really educated me, in terms of a topic that I was wholly unfamiliar with. Gone are the days when I thought that bodies were either donated to universities, cremated, or buried - there are SO MANY MORE OPTIONS.

This book was both a fascinating and gruesome read. Although I wouldn't say I am the most squeamish of people, I did find myself screwing up my face in disgust at particular sections of this book (*cough*cannabalism*cough*). I wouldn't recommend it for people that are faint of heart, as this might be a bit of an ordeal to get through.

I really enjoyed the mix of fact and humour as well as first-hand experience that Mary Roach included in this book. I did find myself grinning or chuckling inwardly at several moments throughout this book - the woman has a fascination with cadaver penises, for real!

There was quite a lot of animal cruelty portrayed in this book, which did admittedly make me somewhat uncomfortable. However, I can understand why it was included, because this is a microhistory after all and must stay true to the facts put forward throughout the book. There were also some sections, such as the use of cadavers in ballistics practice, that didn't appeal to me as much and I did find myself zoning out a bit in those sections, but overall I found this a highly entertaining and informative read. This topic may possibly be only interesting for those who are ever so slightly morbid though.
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