HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers…
Loading...

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Mary Roach

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,851309537 (4.1)435
Member:TequilaReader
Title:Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Authors:Mary Roach
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2004), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:anatomy, anthropology, autopsy, biology, cadavers, corpses, death, forensics, funerals, history, medicine, medical, science, sociology, non-fiction

Work details

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (2003)

Recently added byCynical_Ames, cheekylala, recipe_addict, private library, KateSherrod, MrSe7en, jzadra, NineLarks
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 435 mentions

English (303)  Italian (3)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (308)
Showing 1-5 of 303 (next | show all)
Roach writes a droll account of the way human cadavers have been viewed throughout history and in our present day. Well, viewed, cut up, eaten, shot, dropped from hundred of feet, etc.

I don't have any problem with her book as a concept, writing about death in a humorous and curious slant. But I do have a few quibbles with the book.

One thing I found a little frustrating was that each chapter of the book could probably be it's own mini-book. The only overarching connection is that all of them will have human cadavers in them as the star (obviously, as the title suggests). But the topics completely alter. I could be bored of one subject and completely interested in another. And I just hate inconsistent books. I know it's no fault of the author, because hey, what else can you do? But that doesn't make me like the book even though I understand why she does this. Specifically, I thought the beginning chapters were fairly boring, probably because she had to go through the humdrum of explaining all the background of cadavers. But the chapters seemed to get more interesting as the book went on and a few topics that I've never considered appeared.

The beginning was boring because it was a detailed account of the history of human cadavers. And although she tries to lighten it up with her humor and commentary, it doesn't really get any more interesting. Especially because most of her commentary is speculation.

See? That's my main problem. My main problem is how she goes about finding and delivering the information in this book about human cadavers. I don't trust her ethos. I don't trust her sources and her very opinions-based source of information. She mentions Dr. Oz in the section about organ transplant (taken from brain-dead patients), and I know from other articles that the medical community is a little eh on him because of his fame in media and his physician-approval for some strange things that aren't scientifically proven. He also hasn't exactly been doing medical practice these days, if I recall correctly. So hum.

She treats her sources like an authority. I commend her for talking to all these experts and people in the industry of human cadavers. But I wish there were more hard facts, something more than a transcription of a conversation and inserted commentary.

I looked up a couple of these articles, a couple of the situations she mentions. I couldn't find anything on a couple of them. Perhaps she has wider sources out there, but ahh... The bit on Oscar Hernandez she writes about being sold to a medical school, she even mentions that she tried to contact him, but it didn't work. So yeah, it's in the footnotes, but not in the actual chapter that this story isn't confirmed. That website about eating the placenta as a placenta cocktail... it's the sketchiest site you can imagine. As if she's just fishing for material to use. As if you believe everything on the internet.
I don't doubt her dialogues. I believe that she talked to these people and this was what she got. I just don't quite believe everything she writes here. And I don't believe that I got the full story on each of the chapter's specific topic.

Perhaps it's because writing a book on cadavers is a difficult subject to find material, and therefore she has to use conversations as authority on the subject. But it doesn't help the fact that it feels like Roach is reaching for more topics to cover as the book goes on.

I do applaud the author for personally travelling to so many different places and talking to so many different people about and for this book. It's like investigative journalism almost. Unfortunately, I was hoping for more hard-core facts.

Two and a half star because it was somewhere in between "it was okay" and "I liked it". It was mostly interesting. But I just can't trust most of it.
Not really recommended to anyone unless you feel like reading an easy "medical" book for a med school interview or something like that. But there are definitely better "medical books" to read. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
Roach writes a droll account of the way human cadavers have been viewed throughout history and in our present day. Well, viewed, cut up, eaten, shot, dropped from hundred of feet, etc.

I don't have any problem with her book as a concept, writing about death in a humorous and curious slant. But I do have a few quibbles with the book.

One thing I found a little frustrating was that each chapter of the book could probably be it's own mini-book. The only overarching connection is that all of them will have human cadavers in them as the star (obviously, as the title suggests). But the topics completely alter. I could be bored of one subject and completely interested in another. And I just hate inconsistent books. I know it's no fault of the author, because hey, what else can you do? But that doesn't make me like the book even though I understand why she does this. Specifically, I thought the beginning chapters were fairly boring, probably because she had to go through the humdrum of explaining all the background of cadavers. But the chapters seemed to get more interesting as the book went on and a few topics that I've never considered appeared.

The beginning was boring because it was a detailed account of the history of human cadavers. And although she tries to lighten it up with her humor and commentary, it doesn't really get any more interesting. Especially because most of her commentary is speculation.

See? That's my main problem. My main problem is how she goes about finding and delivering the information in this book about human cadavers. I don't trust her ethos. I don't trust her sources and her very opinions-based source of information. She mentions Dr. Oz in the section about organ transplant (taken from brain-dead patients), and I know from other articles that the medical community is a little eh on him because of his fame in media and his physician-approval for some strange things that aren't scientifically proven. He also hasn't exactly been doing medical practice these days, if I recall correctly. So hum.

She treats her sources like an authority. I commend her for talking to all these experts and people in the industry of human cadavers. But I wish there were more hard facts, something more than a transcription of a conversation and inserted commentary.

I looked up a couple of these articles, a couple of the situations she mentions. I couldn't find anything on a couple of them. Perhaps she has wider sources out there, but ahh... The bit on Oscar Hernandez she writes about being sold to a medical school, she even mentions that she tried to contact him, but it didn't work. So yeah, it's in the footnotes, but not in the actual chapter that this story isn't confirmed. That website about eating the placenta as a placenta cocktail... it's the sketchiest site you can imagine. As if she's just fishing for material to use. As if you believe everything on the internet.
I don't doubt her dialogues. I believe that she talked to these people and this was what she got. I just don't quite believe everything she writes here. And I don't believe that I got the full story on each of the chapter's specific topic.

Perhaps it's because writing a book on cadavers is a difficult subject to find material, and therefore she has to use conversations as authority on the subject. But it doesn't help the fact that it feels like Roach is reaching for more topics to cover as the book goes on.

I do applaud the author for personally travelling to so many different places and talking to so many different people about and for this book. It's like investigative journalism almost. Unfortunately, I was hoping for more hard-core facts.

Two and a half star because it was somewhere in between "it was okay" and "I liked it". It was mostly interesting. But I just can't trust most of it.
Not really recommended to anyone unless you feel like reading an easy "medical" book for a med school interview or something like that. But there are definitely better "medical books" to read. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
The first half was repetitive and I didn't get into it until the second part. Let's just say this book made me want to compost myself when I die. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
I really enjoyed the tone of this book. It was written in a respectful way, but the author's sarcastic personality really shines through and made me laugh. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
From Book Obsession: http://bookobsessiongpl.blogspot.com/2013/06/kearstens-book-club-may-and-june-st...

"May: Stiff : The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.

Mary Roach seems like she'd be a pretty interesting person to hang out with. In Stiff, she takes you, the reader, through the world of human cadavers, and all the ways they have been and are now being used to further scientific discovery, safety, forensics, and even plastic surgery.

Our discussion of this book was all over the place. For awhile, we discussed the most disgusting aspects of Roach's storytelling; for example, an hours-long bladder surgery (performed before anesthesia was available) was horrifically described, and the chapter titled "Eat Me" made me gag a couple of times, no lie.

We then made our way to cloning, then to the ethics of scientific research and we traveled all over that map: would you donate your body to science? What would or wouldn't you want it used for? Should family members be notified of the use?

We had a blast discussing this one, and definitely recommend you try it out. Already read it? Try one of these teen-recommended read-a-likes!

The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean. "In THE VIOLINIST'S THUMB, [Kean] explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA. There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists."

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons--as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

An American Plague by Jim Murphy. It's 1793, and there's an invisible killer roaming the streets of Philadelphia. The city's residents are fleeing in fear. This killer has a name--yellow fever--but everything else about it is a mystery. Its cause is unknown and there is no cure. This [book] traces the devastating course of the epidemic. [The book] offers a ... glimpse into the conditions in American cities at the time of our nation's birth while drawing thought-provoking parallels to modern-day epidemics." ( )
  kayceel | Aug 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 303 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For wonderful Ed
First words
The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken.
The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. (Introduction)
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393324826, Paperback)

"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."—Entertainment Weekly

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:46 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
15 avail.
773 wanted
6 pay6 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.1)
0.5
1 10
1.5 6
2 35
2.5 24
3 304
3.5 121
4 845
4.5 110
5 665

Audible.com

Two editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

W.W. Norton

Two editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393324826, 0393050939

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,800,558 books! | Top bar: Always visible