- The Curious Science of Humans at War
- Narrated by: Abby Elvidge
- Length: 8 hrs and 54 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 06-07-16
- Language: English
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Regular price: $20.99
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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Robin on 06-29-16
Good book, can't abide the narrator
This author has a breezy, cheeky style, which I don't mind so much. However, the narrator's kindergarten-teacher delivery sends the material to a place of absurdity. I couldn't make it past a couple chapters. Better to just read this one.
87 of 95 people found this review helpful
By Gillian on 12-07-16
I Usually Love Mary Roach, But--
This is just too tragic a book. What do you get when you add humor to tragedy and top it off with wide-eyed, childlike narration? Almost unendurable glibness.
I really loved "Stiff". And I thought that subject matter was serious, but it came off as enlightening, with a lot of chuckles. Roach can't carry it off here.
Everything underscores the tragedy of war: ultra-fire retardant uniforms for those in tanks, just brings to mind men trapped and burning to death. The science of RPGs and IEDs on military vehicles? Well, we all know what that means to the men, the real men, in combat. And usually I love her willingness to ask the silly questions that we always wonder about. But here we come to below-the-belt injuries, and she asks, "Didn't you wonder if your junk was still there?" The answer is: Yes, but I worried about my soldiers first. Add to that, she was probably totally in the way while she was working on the book (A submarine going to great lengths, for hours, to get her on board safely; walking in a simulated combat line where she almost gets hit by a vehicle because she had just spotted a gopher). Plus, some of her comments fell painfully, PAINFULLY, flat. A body in the water, just attacked by sharks turns into... "the demi-corpse;" a dead soldier whose extensive and horrific internal injuries? Well, his "mustache is crooked."
Just couldn't find the humor within myself to like this book. There's plenty of interesting info here, tidbits, nuggets, the archaic origins of things. But there's plenty of heartbreak too...
78 of 86 people found this review helpful