From the first autopsies in the time of King Ptolemy I of Egypt in 300 B.C., to the once-living crash test dummies of the present day, in Stiff, Mary Roach examines what happens to our bodies after we die. Sometimes bizarre, often inspiring, and always fascinating, these true accounts of the 2,000 year history of the human cadaver and how it has impacted scientific discovery are told with wit and compassion.
My husband recommended it to me a few years ago, and, after listening to him laugh his way through his second reading of it, I gave it a go. I have to tell you, in these stories, dead people are fun!
Just look at a few of the chapter headings:
- A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Practicing surgery on the dead
- Dead Man Driving: Human crash test dummies and the ghastly, necessary science of impact tolerance
- The Cadaver Who Joined the Army: The sticky ethics of bullets and bombs
- How to Know if You're Dead: Beating heart cadavers, live burial, and the scientific search for the soul
If this looks like something you'd like to read (and maybe talk about) head over to the 3rd floor Readers' Services desk at the library. We'll be talking about Stiff at the next Thursday Evening Book Discussion - July 8 at 7:30 PM in the Heritage Room. Sign up and pick up a copy of the book.
Other books by Mary Roach:
- Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void (coming out in August 2010)