Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

"This is science the way I like it.  A deep dive into a subject that's just a little quirky, told with respect and a sense of humor.  In Stiff, Mary Roach explores what happens to the body after death and how cadavers have been used over the centuries to give us insights about the human condition, solve mysteries, and further the ends of medicine and science.  I've liked all of Mary Roach's books/  Every one of them is thoroughly researched and well written.  Give Stiff a read.  You'll chuckle and learn lots of cool facts that you won't be able to stop yourself sharing with friends and family."

— From Julie's Staff Picks


Beloved, best-selling science writer Mary Roach’s “acutely entertaining, morbidly fascinating” (Susan Adams, Forbes) classic, now with a new epilogue.

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 confirmation surgery, cadavers have helped make history in their quiet way. “Delightful—though never disrespectful” (Les Simpson, Time Out New York), Stiff investigates the strange lives of our bodies postmortem and answers the question: What should we do after we die?

“This quirky, funny read offers perspective and insight about life, death and the medical profession. . . . You can close this book with an appreciation of the miracle that the human body really is.” —Tara Parker-Pope, Wall Street Journal

“Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting.” —Entertainment Weekly

About the Author

Mary Roach is the author of five best-selling works of nonfiction, including Grunt, Stiff, and, most recently, Fuzz. Her writing has appeared in National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. She lives in Oakland, California.

Praise For…

This quirky, funny read offers perspective and insight about life, death and the medical profession.... You can close this book with an appreciation of the miracle that the human body really is.
— Tara Parker-Pope - Wall Street Journal

A laugh-out-loud funny book... one of those wonderful books that offers up enlightenment in the guise of entertainment.
— Michael Little - Washington City Paper

As weird as the book gets, Roach manages to convey a sense of respect and appreciation for her subjects.
— Roy Rivenburg - Los Angeles Times

Roach is authoritative, endlessly curious and drolly funny. Her research is scrupulous and winningly presented.
— Adam Woog - Seattle Times

Mary Roach is one of an endangered species: a science writer with a sense of humor. She is able to make macabre funny without looting death of its dignity.
— Brian Richard Boylan - Denver Post

Roach writes in an insouciant style and displays her métier in tangents about bizarre incidents in pathological history. Death may have the last laugh, but, in the meantime, Roach finds merriment in the macabre.
— Gilbert Taylor - Booklist

Acutely entertaining, morbidly fascinating.
— Susan Adams - Forbes
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393881721
ISBN-10: 0393881725
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: August 31st, 2021
Pages: 320
Language: English