Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Mary Roach

This book describes different things that happen to bodies after death. It starts off with the expected subjects, like bodies donated to science to be used in medical school anatomy labs or for other teaching purposes. Then it delves into more peculiar subject matter, like research facilities looking into the natural decomposition of humans, crash test and ballistics sites, and plastination. I enjoy reading books written by journalists for exactly this reason: they go so much further than I would ever think to go. Her research was very thorough, and her descriptions were detailed without being graphic. I can't imagine what it would be like to visit some of the places she visited. Even though she is talking about dead people, she manages to do so in a light-hearted yet respectful way. She also includes tidbits of barely related information that she learned while doing her research, which can help to lift the mood considerably. This book is interesting without being too intense, and I definitely recommend it, even if you don't plan on dealing with human bodies more than necessary. It's funny, and you just might learn something.


  1. I bought this book for David many years ago after listening to the Author in an NPR interview.

    It's really well written and researched.


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