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The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

An oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.

For 2,000 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 reassignment surgery---cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.

In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries---from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

An oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.

For 2,000 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 reassignment surgery---cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.

In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries---from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

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  • AudioFile Magazine In case you were wondering, some human cadavers do lead active lives after death. For centuries, many have served medicine, magicians, and cannibals in various noble and grossly ignoble ways. Reader Shelly Frasier captures the trenchant wit of Roach's text, which at times is hilariously funny and always appropriately sardonic. Whether we're attending a gruesome autopsy or wandering down a memory lane of corpses, we find ghastly factoids and the people responsible for them around every corner. Not recommended for dinnertime listening, but a must for the curious living, who will find a jocular companion in narrator Frasier. D.J.B. (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
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The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
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