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Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by…
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Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (original 2003; edition 2008)

by Roach Mary, Shelly Frasier

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,975436613 (4.09)602
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:SueJ1
Title:Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Authors:Roach Mary
Other authors:Shelly Frasier
Info:Old Saybrook : Tantor Media, 2008.
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work Information

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. 40
    Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematorium 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.
  3. 31
    The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead by Heather Pringle (FFortuna)
  4. 31
    A Traffic of Dead Bodies: Anatomy and Embodied Social Identity in Nineteenth-Century America by Michael Sappol (meggyweg)
  5. 20
    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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    Lenin's Embalmers by Ilya Zbarsky (bertilak)
  7. 10
    The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy by Jo Marchant (sboyte)
  8. 10
    Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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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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    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 602 mentions

English (430)  Italian (4)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (436)
Showing 1-5 of 430 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this book. It even made me regret not going into mortuary science! Very informative while keeping a light hearted, humorous look at death and dying. I look forward to reading Roach's other books. ( )
  brittaniethekid | Jul 7, 2022 |
I‘m not sure what it says about me when I say enjoyed a book about death. The author made this highly unlikable subject easy to read and provided some real insight into your corporeal options. ( )
  christyco125 | Jul 4, 2022 |
I think I first found out about this book from a Caitlin Doughty video. It was awhile before my library carried a copy. I was really excited about all the stuff I was about to learn, and eagerly opened the book. I read the table of contents and the chapter titles and subheadings. It turns out when I'm unpleasantly stunned to a degree I can't describe well, I do an unsettling impression of Mickey Mouse vocally, right down to squeaking, "Oh boy, oh wow" in shocked horror. The chapter descriptions and titles are far more uh, artistic than the actual content, which is educational and darkly humorous. New chapters are introduced with a black and white photo relevant to a joke the author is about to make, which I found super creative. I didn't laugh until page nineteen, though, but often laughed until about halfway through the book, when the jokes had worn thin. I learned something from what seemed to be every single sentence of this book. I skipped the chapter on cannibalism. Years ago, I wrote out my will and signed up for the Willed Body Program at the local university. I was glad to read about possible ways they might wind up using me. This book was written over a decade ago, so advancements in death care have been made and will continue to be. Still, a lot of the information was fresh and new, or utterly horrifying (the old timey medical procedures were disgusting, and I'm so glad for modern medicine). I was glad when I finally finished the book, I admit. ( )
  iszevthere | Jun 24, 2022 |
This is the second time I've read this book. I forgot most of it except for the body farm and postmortem cannibalism (those stuck with me for the past 10 years). If the aforementioned images are too much for you, this is not the book for you. If you have a sincere interest in the many things that may happen to a dead body, this is a great read. I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that the book's one flaw is the author forcing humor onto every other page. I suppose she was trying to balance out the gross-out factor, but in my opinion, it was just a bit too much. Some of it is genuinely funny; the rest should have been left to the natural absurdity of contemplating the lives of cadavers. At least it's not dry and boring, and overall I would say the author approaches the subject with respect and insight. I still love this book. It has served me well as both a horror author and someone with a general morbid curiosity. ( )
  JosephVanBuren | May 17, 2022 |
I loved this book. It was so interesting and it really helps explores the science of death. This is another book that people don't return. I learned alot and enjoyed the read. ( )
  paworkingmom | May 3, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 430 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roach, Maryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frasier, ShellyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For wonderful Ed
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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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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