The Curious Science of Humans at War

Book - 2016 | First edition
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A New York Times / National Bestseller

"America's funniest science writer" ( Washington Post ) Mary Roach explores the science of keeping human beings intact, awake, sane, uninfected, and uninfested in the bizarre and extreme circumstances of war.

Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries--panic, exhaustion, heat, noise--and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee. She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you'll never see our nation's defenders in the same way again.

Publisher: New York :, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780393245448
Branch Call Number: 355.0709 ROA
Characteristics: 285 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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IndyPL_MarianneK Dec 03, 2018

Another great look at science through Mary's humor, this time with a military perspective. This is my second favorite of her books after Stiff. And yes, there are chicken cannons!

Cheryl_in_IT Jan 24, 2018

I really don't think anything will beat Stiff, but I do love Mary Roach and her writing anyway. Grunt is in turns gritty, informational, funny, off kilter, and somber.

I wish wholeheartedly that she narrated her own audiobooks. I enjoy listening to her talks, and think her wry tone would have translated better than the narrator they used (she was good, but not Mary Roach good).

Some parts left me a bit on the squeamish side, but in any Mary Roach book, there will be something that does. As usual, it was another great blend of unexpected information (MR "rabbit holes" are not the same as my own!), eye openers and humor.

Jul 27, 2017

Mary Roach makes me laugh out loud. She asks questions that many are too timid or too embarrassed to ask, and then asks the hanging follow-up questions. She writes up the interviews presenting highly technical information using highly entertaining prose. And the reader gets to benefit.

ArapahoeCatherine Jul 16, 2017

Roach is a master of making science writing approachable to the layman. While Grunt wasn't my favorite of her books, it was a fascinating look into the research and experiments behind the American military machine. My only regret is that listening to the audiobook, I missed out on all of her great footnotes and had to go back and read them out of context later.

Jul 06, 2017

As with the other books by Roach, I found this one hard to put down. Finished it in just a few sittings. Stayed up too late reading one night then the chapter on sleep deprivation inspired me to put the book down and go to bed.

May 14, 2017

Although the tidbits of fact and scientific information are fascinating, the book devotes way to much print to the attire, appearance, speech, and other irrelevant characteristics of the subjects. The writing style reminds me of the Weekly Reader distributed in fourth through sixth grade classrooms of the 1960s.

Oct 17, 2016

I just finished reading Mary Roach's GRUNT and, well, it's all I'll ever need to know about bionic extra-terrestrial penis reconstruction going on in the military. Roach takes what you think is going to be a book about plain old war and opens up the world of military sciences. Fascinating!

Aug 30, 2016

Mary Roach does it again...takes a subject that holds no interest for me and makes it interesting and hilarious in just the right spots!

Aug 07, 2016

When I first read the title, I was worried that this book was about bombs and guns. However, this is certainly not the case. In fact, the closest Mary Roach gets to bombs is a history of the stink bomb. Instead, this is all about the practicalities of humans at war-sleeping, hearing, intestinal distress and proper clothing. The best recommendation I can give is that she made me care about a subject that I never cared about (or even thought about) before.

Jul 10, 2016

Once again Ms. Roach does a fantastic job of researching and writing about her chosen topic. I've read all her books, and have found each of them to be excellent. Can't wait to hear what she has coming up next.

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