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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers [Format Kindle]

Mary Roach

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Descriptions du produit

From Publishers Weekly

"Uproariously funny" doesn't seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader's Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines ("The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back"), it is clear that she's taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death. Roach delves into the many productive uses to which cadavers have been put, from medical experimentation to applications in transportation safety research (in a chapter archly called "Dead Man Driving") to work by forensic scientists quantifying rates of decay under a wide array of bizarre circumstances. There are also chapters on cannibalism, including an aside on dumplings allegedly filled with human remains from a Chinese crematorium, methods of disposal (burial, cremation, composting) and "beating-heart" cadavers used in organ transplants. Roach has a fabulous eye and a wonderful voice as she describes such macabre situations as a plastic surgery seminar with doctors practicing face-lifts on decapitated human heads and her trip to China in search of the cannibalistic dumpling makers. Even Roach's digressions and footnotes are captivating, helping to make the book impossible to put down.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Those curious or brave enough to find out what really happens to a body that is donated to the scientific community can do so with this book. Dissection in medical anatomy classes is about the least bizarre of the purposes that science has devised. Mostly dealing with such contemporary uses such as stand-ins for crash-test dummies, Roach also pulls together considerable historical and background information. Bodies are divided into types, including "beating-heart" cadavers for organ transplants, and individual parts-leg and foot segments, for example, are used to test footwear for the effects of exploding land mines. Just as the nonemotional, fact-by-fact descriptions may be getting to be a bit too much, Roach swings into macabre humor. In some cases, it is needed to restore perspective or aid in understanding both what the procedures are accomplishing and what it is hoped will be learned. In all cases, the comic relief welcomes readers back to the world of the living. For those who are interested in the fields of medicine or forensics and are aware of some of the procedures, this book makes excellent reading.
Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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252 internautes sur 260 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Death is not the end 20 mai 2003
Par Jeff Topham - Publié sur
This is a book about dead bodies. As Mary Roach demonstrates in her new book, some bodies go on to do remarkable things, such as helping FAA investigators understand why a plane crashed or helping auto-makers design safety features that save thousands of lives. Others are asked to do nothing more than rot away quietly at a research lab where forensic scientists study decomposition in order to improve crime scene investigation techniques. Some are put to slightly more questionable uses, such as the severed heads used by plastic surgeons to practice their facelift technique (surely not what people had in mind when they donated their bodies to science). Others have had even more bizarre adventures. Cadavers have been nailed to a cross in order to prove the authenticity of the shroud of Turin. Severed heads have been poked, prodded, and given transfusions in an attempt to revive them long after they and their bodies have parted ways.
The anonymous cadavers that are the subjects of STIFF could hardly have asked for a livelier or more sympathetic chronicler than Mary Roach, who has managed to write a book that balances sensitivity and respect with a wonderfully sharp wit. In fact, STIFF is unexpectedly and quite blessedly hilarious, although the humor never comes at the expense at the dead bodies that populate its pages. Instead, Roach uses humor as a kind of psychic safety valve, a vital and much-appreciated tension release from what is, at times, some very intense subject matter.
The real highlights of this book are the sections that delve into some of the more disreputable uses of cadavers. There is a droll and utterly hilarious history of body snatching and a short overview of medicinal cannibalism (human mummy confection, anyone?). ThereÕs a fascinating catalog of the methods historically used to make sure that a dead body was in fact dead. This chapter culminates in what is surely the most spectacularly strange section of the book, in which Roach relates the story of Dr. Robert White, a neurosurgeon who in the mid-1960s performed a series of surgeries constituting what could be considered the first head transplant (or full body transplant, depending on your point of view). A wonderfully engrossing book on a subject most of us are reluctant to talk about.
76 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 And you thought death was depressing--- 24 juillet 2003
Par Melissa Petty - Publié sur
Mary Roach did her homework, and it shows. She has written and information packed, insightful, educational, respectful, and, yes, funny book on what happens to these bodies of ours when we get tired of hanging out in them. I have a newfound respect for all who have donated their bodies in the name of science. Not that I give it a lot of thought, but I figured cremation would be the most logical choice. After reading this book, heck, they can do whatever they want with me. I've always felt an obligation to help others, and if I can continue to do so after I have left this world, then HOORAY.
Meanwhile, expect some odd looks when you are sitting there reading a book obviously about the dearly departed, and you started sputtering, and can't help but laugh out loud! Quirky humour, but that's my favorite kind. Thank you, Mary Roach.
I recommend this book to anyone in healthcare, or the clergy, or anyone even dealing with people who experience loss. It gives you a new perspective.
On the other hand, I will have a hard time ever eating gelatin again...
51 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Stiff 11 août 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur
A few nights ago I made a weekend resolution that I'd tackle the much-neglected stack of fiction that teeters on my bedside table. However, while reverentially picking up 'The Body Artist' by Don Delillo, I was distracted by a misplaced reader's copy of Mary Roach's 'Stiff'. Evidently, despite my best intentions, a modest volume of non-fiction had managed to steal it's way into my fiction pile. As morbid curiosity has always been a personal failing, I cheerfully chucked aside 'The Body Artist' and eagerly cracked open Roach's book. For the first time in over two years, I read an entire volume in one sitting.
Roach opens her book with the comparison of death to a pleasure cruise: The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you....

Stiff is, without a doubt, a bizarre yet remarkably engaging read: not surprising since Roach is such a terrific writer. The author possesses the ingenious ability of being able to make digestible the most repulsive of subjects. Curious, yet not callus, Roach manages to ask-and yes, answer-questions often best left unspoken (keeping in mind public decorum). Furthermore, Roach is hilarious. Quite honestly I was surprised at how many times the author prompted (albeit sometimes guilty) laughter. A neat trick that, keeping in mind the grisly subject matter.
Roach gleefully covers merry topics such as: practicing surgery on the dead, embalmment, body snatching, the process of decay, human crash test dummies, crucifixion experiments, live burials, human head transplants, ecological (read: green) releasments, and everyone's all-time favourite- cannibalism. All the while Roach manages to honour the dead, yet simultaneously takes deliberate pains not to over-glorify the cadaver-science is science after all. One of the most remarkable aspects about Roach's book is her take on cultural definitions of `acceptable behaviour' in relation to the human carcass.
Tonight, inspired by Roach's second to last chapter: Out of the Fire, into the tissue digester: and other new ways to end up... I asked an agnostic friend if, following her death, she'd be willing to have her body ground into dog food. "No," replied my friend, despite her love for all things canine, "...I don't think so- it seems somewhat undignified." I then asked my friend if she'd be willing to have her remains tossed into the lion pen at her local zoo. My friend replied in the positive, "Most certainly, yes that'd be very cool. Maybe even a shark tank..." Vanity to be certain. Meat either way.
A warning to the queasy: Not for you.
131 internautes sur 145 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good Book with Some New Perspectives on Death 28 avril 2003
Par J. Hoopes - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
First, Mary Roach has a terrific sense of humor. She takes a challenging subject and finds ways to make you laugh just when you need it. Her humor is irreverent, but never disrespectful. She can laugh at some of the absurdity, yet still appreciate the pain dying can bring.
This is well written, well researched, and thorough. My one, very minor complaint is with the organization of the book. I feel as though it starts much more strongly than it finishes. So, for example, she might have considered organizing the chapters differently.
I don't think you need a particularly strong stomach to read this book. Only one item actually turned my stomach. But when it did, it *really* did.
The book succeeded in making me think about my own death. It also made me think about my mother's death and made it easier to accept certain events. ...
I hope this book will make you laugh and then think too.
23 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Gee, Mommy, can I too be a STIFF when I grow up? 22 mai 2003
Par Joseph Haschka - Publié sur
Perhaps author Mary Roach thought the title of her book, STIFF, too ghoulish because she immediately begins in a festive mood:
"... being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you." Carnival, Viking, and Holland America, take note.
As a corpse, you can indeed, as on last summer's voyage to the Bahamas, veg out. Or, as the narrative reveals, be an integral part of other activities. Why, I didn't realize that being dead could be so lively.
First and foremost, your cadaver could become the prize of body snatchers, and subsequently be sold to a medical school for the instruction and amusement of students. Or perhaps you aspire to become a crash test dummy, fodder for the military's munitions tests, or the subject of experiments in composting, freeze-drying or plastination. If you're unlucky enough to die in an airplane disaster of unknown cause, investigators may scrutinize your body, or its widely scattered pieces, for clues as to where in the aircraft the fuselage cracked open or the bomb exploded. Your dissected brain or heart could fuel arguments over the seat of the soul, while other body parts serve as the raw material for disease remedies. Or maybe just be eaten by cannibals. And, if you're the outdoorsy type, you can recline in a grove on a grassy hillside behind the University of Tennessee Medical Center where the various stages of human decomposition are studied and recorded.
STIFF is one of the most fascinating books I've read recently, even after taking into account the "yuk" factor. (In ancient Rome, the blood of freshly slaughtered gladiators was thought to cure epilepsy, while modern day Web sites have recipes for Placenta Lasagna and Placenta Pizza for those who would consume the delicacy to stave off postpartum depression.) This is largely due to the author's chatty style and marvelous sense of humor, which is dry as a mummy. For example, when declaring the existence of a Central Park statue of a certain Dr. Sims, otherwise notable for describing a suitable patient position for gynecological exam, Roach writes in a footnote:
"If you don't believe me, you can look it up yourself, on page 56 of THE ROMANCE OF PROCTOLOGY. (Sims was apparently something of a dilettante when it came to bodily orifices.) P.S.: I could not, from cursory skimming, ascertain what the romance was."
I highly recommend STIFF for the not too squeamish adult, or as a scary Halloween gift for one who is. Or as a bedtime reader for precocious youngsters - they'll think it gross, but way cool, as children are wont to do.
In case you're wondering, there's no photo section.
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