Looking for a unique and intriguing read? Look no further than “Stiff“! This book is perfect for those with a scientific curiosity and an appreciation for the strange and quirky aspects of human behavior. However, I must warn you, if you’re even remotely squeamish or too young, this may not be the book for you.
In “Stiff“, author Mary Roach takes us on a wild ride through the explicit and factual world of cadavers. She effortlessly explains complex scientific concepts in a way that anyone can understand, making it a great read for both experts and laymen.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, there were moments when I had to put it down and take a breather. Not because I was grossed out, but because the incredible details about historical and current scientific research on anatomy, dying, and decomposition were simply mind-blowing. Roach uncovers a variety of methods and practices involving dead bodies that will leave you speechless.
Roach’s writing style is both witty and informative. She uses dry and slapstick humor to discuss the centuries-old practices of studying corpses, from early-stage proto-science to modern-day experiments. She even travels the world to explore how corpses and body parts are used in medical, commercial, and environmental labs. The book delves into the folk beliefs and practices surrounding dead bodies, some of which involve practices we would now label as cannibalism. Yet, through it all, Roach’s jokes hit the mark, perfectly capturing the silliness and bizarre nature of our obsession with dead bodies.
You’ll be amazed to learn just how extensively corpses have been used in commercial research. Car manufacturers use them to test the impact of collisions, medical schools rely on them for education, and even investigators of plane crashes turn to cadavers for insights. Roach also uncovers the role of corpses in military studies, sports equipment design, and the training of cadaver dogs. And let’s not forget the unsettling world of illegal activities involving dead bodies, like necrophilia.
But that’s not all. Roach also delves into the strange experiments conducted by early scientists and doctors. They sought answers to questions like where the soul resides and whether guillotined heads continue to live for a few seconds after being severed. And yes, people actually made products like wallets and handbags from body parts.
Prepare to have your mind blown even further with Roach’s exploration of early crackpot medicines. Believe it or not, human and animal waste, along with other bodily fluids like spit, menstrual blood, and urine, were key ingredients in these supposed remedies. Yet, the most common component in these strange concoctions was liquor. People eagerly consumed these elixirs despite their lack of effectiveness.
Intrigued? If you’ve managed to make it this far without feeling queasy, “Stiff” is an absolute must-read!