Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

Mary Roach. Norton, $26.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-24544-8
With compassion and dark humor, Roach (Gulp) delves into the world of military scientists and their drive to make combat more survivable for soldiers. Her interest in military matters wasn’t piqued by the usual aspects of warfare—armaments, tactics, honor—but the more “esoteric” ones: “exhaustion, shock, bacteria, panic, ducks.” Roach goes into great detail about the historical conditions that spawned particular areas of research, and she often describes seemingly absurd tests and experiments. Military scientists are so committed to bringing soldiers home alive that they examine nearly every facet of life and death, researching such topics as diarrhea among Navy SEALs, body odors under stress, using maggots to heal wounds, and the “injuries collectively known as urotrauma.” Roach also corrects some popular misconceptions while offering odd bits of trivia. Sharks aren’t particularly attracted to human blood, she finds, though it was discovered that bears love the taste of used tampons. And in the case of reconstructive surgery, her elaborate explanation of penile transplants brings home the true horror of war. Roach’s book is not for the squeamish or those who envision war as a glorious enterprise; it is a captivating look at the lengths scientists go to in order to reduce the horrors of war. Illus. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/04/2016
Release date: 06/06/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-393-24545-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-5113-6793-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-6796-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5113-6791-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-6792-9
Paperback - 978-1-4328-3783-9
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-393-35437-9
Hardcover - 434 pages - 978-1-4104-9069-8
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