Friday, May 23, 2014

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

by Mary Roach
295 pgs

Mary Roach is one of only a handful of author who periodically draw me into reading non-fiction. My primary reason for reading is entertainment, and typically non-fiction book are written more to enlighten and educate than they are to entertain. But Mary Roach always does a fantastic job of presenting her research on a topic in a highly enjoyable manner, and if I happen to learn something as well, that's just a bonus as far as I'm concerned.

In Stiff, Roach describes the various uses mankind has come up with for human cadavers. From being used to understand and investigate the causes of airplane crashes, to training future plastic surgeons on the techniques they need to master to perform a rhinoplasty. They're used to improve the safety of automobiles, and their decomposition rates are studied under various conditions to help forensic specialists better determine the time of death for murder victims. She also details the burial, cremation, and up-and-coming (and environmentally-friendly) composting practices for the disposal of the dead.

Roach has a light-hearted, but sensitive approach when discussing the usefulness of human cadavers. She describes the tremendous benefits society has gained because of them, and she makes a compelling argument for donating one's body after death for the furthering of our knowledge and benefiting those we leave behind.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

No comments:

Post a Comment