Summary Of Stiff By Mary Roach

Topics: Death, Body, Human anatomy / Pages: 5 (1246 words) / Published: Oct 19th, 2016
Stiff, by Mary Roach, is a nonfiction book about the “Curious lives of human cadavers”. In this book, Roach details the ins and outs of what happens when you donate your body to science, as well as other “uses” for dead human bodies. In dealing with such a seemingly gruesome subject, Roach keeps it quite tame and informative. From anatomy labs to cadaveric medicine, this book is sure to leave no cadaver questions unanswered. The book begins with a foreseen segment on educational uses for cadavers, including a full chapter on the practice of facial surgery on human heads. Though shocking, it is not gruesome enough to put the book down. Roach is witty yet respectful in describing the decapitation of cadavers, and punny yet informative …show more content…
One chapter describes the use of cadavers for medicinal purposes, mostly in ancient times. One unexpected facet of cadaveric research is the use of the dead as crash test dummies. When the dummies can’t give the correct results, scientists try to get the real deal. After all, dummies don’t have that many bones. “A dummy can tell you how much force a crash is unleashing on various dummy body parts, but without knowing how much of a blow a real body part can take, the information is useless.” (Roach 59). On a more tragic note, Roach chats with Dennis Shanahan, a man who analyzes crash victims to identify what exactly happened. Roach gets to see him in action, investigating flight 800, a plane that crashed in the water. Shanahan uses the autopsies of the victims to find out what exactly happened-- and in the end he was right. It is amazing how people like him can work in such devastating circumstances. Roach investigates how these types walk the fine line between removing themselves and insensitivity. Readers soon learn how taxing it can be, and that the main strategy is to not think of the “parts” as human. Another subject Roach touches on is ballistics research. How do they get around the not suprising fact that shooting dead people is not okay? From using gelatin to not actually shooting the cadavers, they sure do have to be creative. In the chapter “Holy Cadaver”, readers …show more content…
I think that anyone with a mild interest for science would too, and get a better worldview of death. I didn’t know much about cadaveric research and body donation, so I am glad I now know how beneficial and crucial it is to so many areas of research. It is strangely comforting to hear how people make a difference from the grave. Though I am positive my body is going straight into the dirt, I still commend those who do donate theirs. There is so much to learn from Stiff, and I hope that many other death ignorant people will read it also. This book answers so many questions, but raises twice as many. “We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.” (Roach

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