22 February 2014

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers  4Stars

All right, I can probably guess what you're thinking. "Ew, cadavers? But that means dead people! Who really cares what happens to the dead?" Or it could be something more like this: "Wait, you're doing what with a deceased person? That is not respectful to the departed."

Well, to each their own I suppose, but I found this fascinating! Mary Roach, a journalist by trade, wanted to know what really happens to those that donate their bodies to science or are left unclaimed in the county morgue. They happen to have an interesting life after death.

Medical students are taught surgical procedures that they would otherwise have to learn on the job. I don't know about you, but I want a surgeon that knows what s/he's doing. Ever think about how car manufacturers manage to ensure that a car is indeed safe enough to drive? You guessed it! Long before a crash test dummy is placed in the driver seat, John Doe takes a ride to make sure that you will survive. Included in this book are also some experiments done upon the deceased for the furtherment of science, if not simple human curiosity.

You'd think that such a book is gross and not worth reading. You may be right, but I found it stimulating. Ms Roach approaches the topic with gallows humor and no small dose of wit. Its possible to be respectful of the dead while still keeping a sense of humor.Personally, I have a whole new respect for those that decide to donate their bodies to science, or if their families choose to do so. Thank you, anonymous people, for providing the means to further science. And Mary Roach... thanks for such an entertaining book, even if the topic may have been a bit icky.