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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 (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,762403585 (4.09)566
An oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For 2,000 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.… (more)
Member:Randi12Lyn
Title:Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Authors:Mary Roach (Author)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2004), Edition: 1st, 303 pages
Collections:Your library
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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)
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    The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead by Heather Pringle (FFortuna)
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    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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    Shocked : adventures in bringing back the recently dead by David Casarett M.D. (PuddinTame)
    PuddinTame: 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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» See also 566 mentions

English (398)  Italian (4)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (404)
Showing 1-5 of 398 (next | show all)
I have been curious about Roach and the intriguing topics she writes books about for quite some time -- but this is the first book of hers that I read. I brought it with me on vacation and it was a great selection for reading long sections aloud to my husband as we drove.

And reading bits of this aloud is kind of irresistible. I loved Roach's dry sense of humor -- which was irreverent without ever crossing the line into heartlessness or crassness. The situations that many of these bodies end up in is frankly absurd, which Roach points out without losing sight of how it affects those who are working with corpses, as well as how the studies done on cadavers have (and haven't) advanced science and society.

Ultimately, what this book is about is how what happens to our bodies after death does and doesn't matter. As much as I was fascinated by all the stories of bodies "left to science," I was most interested in those chapters on the people working to develop new, more earth-friendly ways to handle human remains.

I definitely need to read more of Roach's work. And to look up what's happened to those new technologies in the years since this book was published! ( )
  greeniezona | Feb 21, 2020 |
As someone who has always had a morbid curiosity about all things, this was an easy choice to read. It's well written in a way to get all the details you'd hope to glean from such a topic, and the author's sardonic and sarcastic humour adds to a lot of the imagery and enjoyment of receiving that information.

I'd whole-heartily recommend that if this is a topic of interest to you, to pickup a copy of this book. It's my first book by Mary Roach, but it will certainly not be my last. ( )
  DarkkInferno | Feb 19, 2020 |
Thoroughly entertaining and interesting. There are so many ways to dispose of &/or use your body after you have moved on. ( )
  trinker | Jan 9, 2020 |
Everything you wanted to know about what happens to dead, or about dead, bodies. Humorously written, enjoyable read, despite a few gruesome descriptions. ( )
  addunn3 | Nov 8, 2019 |
A wonderful exploration of the "curious afterlives of cadavers." Roach has a wonderful narrative voice here: she manages to convey both the factual and the personal at once.

-1 star for one too many tangents in the chapter set in China.

Highly recommended. ( )
  treehorse | Nov 7, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 398 (next | show all)
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Mary Roachprimary authorall editionscalculated
Frasier, ShellyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship.
The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken.
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W.W. Norton

2 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.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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