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July 2008 Selection: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
By: Mary Roach
Copyright: 2003


About the Book:

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

For two thousand years, cadavers — some willingly, some unwittingly — 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 -- 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.

Related Web sites:

Author Mary Roach's web site

Publisher's web site for Stiff

Interview with Roach about Stiff at

If You Like Stiff, Try:

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
By: Mary Roach. 2006.

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
By: Mary Roach. 2008.

Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab, the Body Farm, Where the Dead Do Tell Tales
By: Bill Bass. 2003.

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist
By: William R. Maples. 1994.

Body Brokers: Inside America's Trade in Human Remains
By: Annie Cheney. 2006.

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