Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers

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An oddly compelling, often hilarious forensic exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.


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  • Stiff


For two thousand years, cadavers ó some willingly, some unwittingly ó 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 ó 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.

13 b/w illustrations.

'Fascinating and oddly fun.' -Irene Wanner, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

'A laugh-out-loud funny book ... one of those wonderful books that offers up inlightenment in the guise of entertainment.' -Michael Little, WASHINGTON CITY PAPER

Additional Information

Author Mary Roach
Publisher W.W. Norton
Page Count 303pp
Publication Size 5.5 x 8
Publication Notes trade paperback
Publication Date 2004
ISBN 978-0393324822

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