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

by Mary Roach

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,125323505 (4.1)458
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)

  1. 121
    Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach (alaskabookworm)
  2. 31
    The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead by Heather Pringle (FFortuna)
  3. 31
    A Traffic of Dead Bodies: Anatomy and Embodied Social Identity in Nineteenth-Century America by Michael Sappol (meggyweg)
  4. 20
    Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These engaging, unusual accounts deal with the human body after death. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes wittily relates the work of an assistant in a crematorium, while Stiff presents an entertaining account of what happens with cadavers.
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    Lenin's Embalmers by Ilya Zbarsky (bertilak)
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    The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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    Shocked : adventures in bringing back the recently dead by David Casarett M.D. (juglicerr)
    juglicerr: If you liked either on of these books, I recommend trying the other author. Both offer nitty-gritty medical details leavened with humor, which helps make the gross details more bearable. For my money, Mary Roach is funnier, but I thoroughly enjoyed both authors… (more)
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    Working stiff : two years, 262 bodies, and the making of a medical examiner by Judy Melinek (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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    The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy by Jo Marchant (sboyte)
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    No Stone Unturned: The Story of Necrosearch International Investigators by Steve Jackson (grizzly.anderson)
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    The Dead Janitors Club: Pathetically True Tales of a Crime Scene Cleanup King by Jeff Klima (infiniteletters)
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    Never Suck A Dead Man's Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI by Dana Kollmann (meggyweg)
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    The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers by Scott Carney (meggyweg)
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    The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey (MyriadBooks)
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    Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (jbarry)
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» See also 458 mentions

English (318)  Italian (3)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (323)
Showing 1-5 of 318 (next | show all)
The best of non-fiction! Pelted with interesting bits of trivia and history I always felt I was learning while Roach's writing style was consistently entertaining (if not downright funny). Highly recommend...although you'll be in a quandary in how to dispose of your own body when you're done! ( )
  AmyVansant | Aug 25, 2015 |
Amusing, interesting and informative... all bundled up in a quick read. I dig it. ( )
  Industrialstr | Aug 7, 2015 |
Another intriguing Mary Roach book. This time, she looks at the varied uses of our bodies once they're no longer occupied. In addition to discussing the processes underlying the breakdown of cells, tissues, and organs and the ins-and-outs of embalming (one thing I learned is that little plastic disks with teeth on them are inserted under the eyelids to prevent them from opening during the visitation), explores alternative uses. Organ transplant. Dissection by medical students in anatomy labs. Use in crash tests (while crash test dummies equipped with accelerometers can measure the forces produced by collisions, those measurements are useless unless they know the amount of force needed to fracture a rib cage and puncture a lung). In rare instances, a shallow earth burial or left openly exposed to the elements at the famed Body Farm where forensic scientists gather fundamental data for use in investigating homicides. In still rarer instances, plastization whereby all the water in the body is replaced by a silicon polymer to create a 100% accurate anatomical specimen that can last for thousands of years. Cryonic preservation in the hope that future advances in medicine might permit a re-vivification.
She also explores various methods of body disposal: conventional burial, cremation (which is becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive in some forward thinking countries because of the expense involved in capturing mercury released from tooth fillings; that's not the case in the US, because legislation was written to specifically exempt crematories from EPA regulation of solid waste incineration), liquid cremation (in which remains are dissolved in a lye bath and ultimately flushed down the drain. In one late chapter, she reports on a Swedish ecologist who's seeking funding for a company to produce machinery capable of freeze-drying bodies so they can be ground up and used as earth-friendly compost. (Technically the freeze-drying is only needed because the families of the recently departed are put off by the idea of the tissues rotting with a horrific stench.) ( )
  dickmanikowski | Jul 18, 2015 |
The topic of this book sounds a bit, well, morbid. In some respects it is. Ms. Roach tackles the subject of donating not only your organs but your whole body to science. She takes us through the history of the practice from body snatchers, cadaver theft and willing donors. We are given a tour of a body farm, a science lab and various other uses for human cadavers. Some of which I never suspected.

Far from being morbid this book is factual and interesting. Ms. Roach’s writing style is light and even humorous (often at her own expense), despite the grim subject matter. A worthwhile read.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Fascinating look at what bodies are used for after they die. For some reason reminded me of reading about Madame Tussaud even before the part of reattaching heads after the guillotine. ( )
  sslibrary | Jul 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 318 (next | show all)
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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)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:43 -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 5 descriptions

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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393324826, 0393050939

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