The Curious Lives of Human CadaversBook - 2003 | 1st ed.
A look inside the world of forensics examines the use of human cadavers in a wide range of endeavors, including research into new surgical procedures, space exploration, and a Tennessee human decay research facility.
"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.
From medicinal mummies to cadaver models for crash-test dummies, a San Francisco writer presents a well-researched, lively dissection of offbeat ways that the dead have served the living and treats medical and ethical issues. Not a life or death matter, but a spell checker/editor missed the use of "piece" for "peace" (p.150). Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From Library Staff
Mary Roach is often funny, and always interesting. I always knew bodies were used for medical studies, but there are so many other ways to be useful after you are dead! After reading this book, I am reassured that my decision to donate my body to science after my death was the right one.
Roach explores the different paths bodies can take after death.
From the critics
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funny and engaging. a terrific overview of the life (?) of a corpse. from crash dummy, to being on display as a plastinated piece of art in a museum to helping forensic anthropologists determine rate of decay . we all die, we all end as corpses. sometimes even dead we have a life!
Mary Roach, a journalist, describes various ways cadavers are used or have been used historically. In a series of sketches, Roach visits sites where cadavers are used, describes what she witnesses, and interviews the people who work with cadavers. She discusses the use of cadvers by surgeons who wish to improve their techniques without harming a patient; how cadavers have been procured historically, including a discussion of medical colleges relying on body snatchers; the decay process of cadavers and its use in forensics; the use of cadavers to test safety features in cars; how cadavers are used to determine the cause of airplane accidents; the use of cadavers to determine the impact of bullets and bombs; the use of cadavers by scholars interested in crucifixion; organ donation; the possibility of head transplants; cannibalism; various methods of disposing of dead bodies. In the final chapter, the author muses about how she would like her own body to be disposed.
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