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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Author: Mary Roach
"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."—Entertainment Weekly Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have ...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780393324822
ISBN-10: 0393324826
Publication Date: 5/2004
Pages: 304
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 648 ratings
Publisher: W. W. Norton Company
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
I rarely read non-fiction, but the cover of this book grabbed me. Boy, am I glad I picked it up! Filled with tons of facts about the uses of cadavers, many of which I'd never considered (crash-test dummies, police training, fertilizer), the book's footnotes are not to be missed.

Terrifically funny without being irreverent, Mary Roach has written an informative book that got me thinking about what I want done with my body after death.

Not to mention the best line, ever, in a book: "Well, do me chicken."
reviewed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on + 44 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
After long admiring Ms. Roach's contributions to Reader's Digest, I read this book. Although the subject matter is unusual and might well be distasteful to many, she handles it with dignity and, if you can believe, much good humor. If you've ever been curious about all things dead, this is the book for you. Consider it the ultimate recycling idea. Chances are you'll never attend another wake without thinking about the stories in this book.
reviewed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
I bought this book (PB & HC) for a fellow member who had wish-listed it, and the poster backed out on her (said she wanted to keep it, after posting it). In the interim the member acquired another copy - so here I was with 2 bindings of a book I would probably NOT have requested for myself! What to do? I did the only logical thing - I read it myself!This book is without a doubt one of the most obscure and innovative non-fiction subjects you could ever imagine being turned into a book. Mary Roach respectfully shows us all a lighter side of death. She goes above-and-beyond the normal fare of post-life activities that you might expect, and gives you new insights into things like organ donation, processing and eating of mummies in ancient China! Along the way, she pulls over and gives you glimpses of dead-derived medicines, embalming, decomposition, and the use of test crash cadavers. This is a book about the factual side of an emotional subject and I think it is superbly done! How she can work humor into an otherwise humorless area is beyond me! She elegantly attains a very difficult and fine-lined balance between respect, history, and humor in a book about a very thorny issue. Be very cautious when friends ask you "read any good books lately" - your answer may get you some strange looks in return! Mary Roach has written something that will make you scratch your head, smile, frown, wrinkle your nose, read with your mouth open, and reach a level of understanding of what happens after death that you wouldn't have achieved on your own! You'll want to share this book with your friends - well, you're my friends (so to speak), so I'm sharing it with YOU! READ IT - you'll thank me for it!
reviewed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on + 404 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
When the living stop living, what happens to what's left over? From funerary procedures, to medical teaching aid, to odd science experiments done in the name of education, to preventing future deaths, to being eaten... this pop-sci journey is a quick read, easy to understand, and takes away the mysteries and ignorances of what's done with cadavers.
reviewed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on + 173 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Fantastic look at a topic not "fit for polite conversation"...what happens to our bodies after death. The author's humorous (but not disrespectful) tone makes the material, although off-putting, engaging. I thought it was fascinating and funny!
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reviewed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on + 190 more book reviews
I was quite interested in this book and it lived up to my expectations. Each chapter was about the different ways that cadavers, (bodies that have been donated) are used. Of course for medical students, but so many ways that I never thought of. For the Body Farm in Tennessee, for testing ammo, for car crashes etc. The reason I was so interested was because both my parents donated their bodies to medical universities. It was well written and even had some humorous parts. Not as morbid as you would think.
reviewed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on + 629 more book reviews
Oh my, what an interesting book! I enjoyed the way it was written (serious, but with humor when needed). From body snatching to studying the rate of decomposition to organ donation, this covered everything that I can think of. I remember in college having the opportunity to dissect (well, the physical therapy students got to do it first) 3 cadavers in anatomy class. That was a different experience.

I have had patients donate their bodies to science at time of death (and when on hospice it's allowed and very easy, no coroner involvement since we go out and "pronounce.") It's fairly simple to do; Medcure is the program used most often for the deaths I've attended
reviewed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers on + 67 more book reviews
I wasn't sure if I would like this book, but I found it very compelling. It was the first book in months that I found myself unable to put down. What could have been a gruesome book was instead made interesting by the author's respectful yet humorous approach.

I highly recommend this book!