New: Book Report: Stiff (The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)

There's some interesting stuff in this book about scientific, medical, and engineering-testing uses of human cadavers. There's some interesting stuff, but there's some "humorous" reportage to slog through on the way there. The writer is working with interesting material--and she obviously did some good research to dig up this material and presents it well--but didn't seem to think that material was sufficiently interesting to her audience. So she tells us her reactions, she makes unfunny jokes, she tries to keep us engaged... I got tired of slogging through that. I stopped reading.

There were anecdotes of resurrectionists--graverobbers who didn't rob possessions, but who dug up bodies for early medical anatomists. There was a story I hadn't heard before: a guy running a boarding house who killed a sick boarder and then sold the body.

One thing I want to remember out of this book: I'd heard that crucified people couldn't breathe if they let themselves dangle, that they had to push themselves up or suffocate. According to one researcher, that theory was based on a kind of torture in which folks have their arms tied above them; but if your arms are out to the sides, you can still breathe OK.

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Posted 2009-07-02

 Skott said...

I tried listening to it on audiobook, but found I had a much weaker stomach than expected.

02 July, 2009 11:45