Science. Technology. Nonfiction. HTML: 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 adversariesâ??panic, exhaustion, heat, noiseâ??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
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I will say that I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as some of her others. I think that may be partially because her approach to things has gotten a little too familiar by now. (Ho, hum, she's talking about feces again.) Also partly because even though she is deliberately not talking about the killing-people parts of military technology, war is a subject that feels uncomfortable and sad to me in ways that even the discussions of death in [Stiff] didn't. Hell, [Stiff] genuinely helped me to feel more comfortable with the idea of death and dead bodies, and that was a really good and useful thing. But I don't want to get comfortable with, or have fun with, the idea of war. And I think that made it a little weird to read.
But, still. Even not-quite-as-enjoyable Mary Roach is still full of bizarre and fascinating facts and stories and entertaining little asides, and this one certainly still has all of that. Especially as the military has apparently come up with some very, um, creative ideas over the years.
For this book, she chose the men and women of the Armed Forces. Her chapters covered military clothing, armoring of
The author injects humor throughout the book. She definitely did her research and is not afraid to give her own opinion. I would definitely recommend this book.
** I received this book through Goodreads Member Giveaway. The opinion is solely my own. **
Mary Roach has several science books and they are always enjoyable and informative. Her sense of humor helps in the tough areas of the book.
I hope with her wide readership that our young service men and women will become news again, instead of what makes the headlines currently!
One of those amazing nonfiction writers is Mary Roach.
I have no real interest in war or science, but this book like every other Roach book Iâ€™ve read was completely captivating. Page after page, I ooed and aaed as the author shared all she had discovered during her extensive hands-on research about war.
Another amazing nonfiction book from Mary Roach.
The writing is sharp and enjoyable. There is a levity to the approach that does an admirable job of balancing the seriousness of the problem. However, I found a few of the jokes punched in like a bad comedy act. It seems like she might of gone a few pages without a joke, so she crams one in.
In Grunt, the unifying subject is war and the military. She covers all kinds of things that most people (especially lay persons not involved in military service) probably have never given much thought to, like genital transplants and post-op sex-ed for blast victims, or how to train combat medics, and the operate-able prosthetics involved. Sleep deprivation on submarines, WWII stink bombs, shark repellent, medical maggots, diarrhea and navy seals, the never-ending quest for the perfect military clothing. These are all topics Roach elucidates, and with her usual wit and aplomb.
While not as laugh-out-loud funny as some of her other books, Grunt is still very informative and engaging. I do recommend it, but those that are squeamish about the occasional irreverence, (or about discussion of surgery and amputation, for example) may wish to pass.
A note for listeners: I did not particularly like the audiobook reader (Abby Elvidge, just in case there are multiple versions). Her tone was a bit too "zany-jokey" for my taste, and I feel a different approach would better suit Roach's particular style of wit. It was most distracting in the beginning, making it hard to stay connected with the actual text of the book in the first few chapters. Whether Elvidge got used to the material and toned down her delivery, or whether I just got used to her, I'm not sure, but most of the book was fine after that.
I give the book 4 stars (I really liked it), and the reading performance 2 stars (It was ok).
This was another one of those books where I was so excited to get an ARC, I'm pretty sure I squealed out loud.
I should preface this by saying I love
She said Roach was absolutely fascinating and funny, just like you would hope.
In Grunt, Roach again works her unique style of magic, this time centered around the science surrounding humans at war. She volunteers to participate in a heat stroke test, and to act as an injured party (complete with fake squirting blood) in an attack simulation. She visits the home of a man who studies the healing power of maggots, and stops in at a lab dedicated to the possibility of genitalia transplants, as well as one focused on preventing debilitating diarrhea.
Through it all, Roach never loses her sense of humor, her deep curiosity, or her willingness to learn. Nothing will stop her from approaching an intimidating Special Ops officer at the lunch table to ask him about his bowel movements, all in the name of science of course.
Grunt is a look at the side of war that isn't typically written about, the scientific side, where developing shark repellent and the most disgusting smelling weapons could just be the key to winning it all.
Roach is the type of person who is insatiably curious, and who will ask ANYTHING. Her style is consistently engaging, witty yet informative. Grunt is
The second volume ended with a WHAAAATTT??! and this DID NOT pick up where that left off. The momentum from that ending was gone in the third volume. Instead there are guest artists and some insight into individual gods. The introduction/development of characters previously
Technically, one could categorize this as "military science / medicine". Roach takes a look at everything from genital reconstruction to sleep deprivation to stink bombs and -- most often -- manages to keep her wry humor and finely-tuned sense of the ridiculous.
But this is a tough climb, and the book is at times a difficult read. One can endure only so many descriptions of the kinds of damage intentionally done to one human by another before the mind numbs and simply wants to shut down.
The book is buoyed (pun intended) by the chapters on submarine service -- underwater escape techniques, the Navy's search for an effective shark repellent, and even a study of sleep-deprivation among submarine crews.
Overall, it's a worthwhile read, but probably not the best introduction to Roach's oeuvre.
Disclaimer: I won an ARC from a GoodReads giveaway (my first and only so far, hooray), and my honest review will be based on that.
It'd be easier to list
Also-- and this is totally nitpicky, and maybe an ARC thing-- but the images at the start of each chapter weren't doing it for me. Typical Roach book goes like this: you finish a chapter, turn the page, encounter some strange photograph that seems a little absurd and whimsical but foreshadows the topic of the succeeding chapter; turn the page again, and start the chapter. Grunt places the images on the same page as the chapter heading, and opposite the first page of the chapter. I missed that sort of meditative moment of pondering the out-of-context image before diving in again. Also, the images selected for this book were sort of boring. Guy poking his head out of a tank? Not even a funny moustache or dog to liven it up. Anatomical figure chasing another anatomical figure? Yawn.
Pretty minor things! I learned a lot, and I felt like I could trace some of her research here back to stuff she must have found out while researching Stiff, Bonk, and probably Gulp. I feel like an opportunity was lost to do a little cross-promotion to those who might have read those yet! I was suitably grossed out at times, but still laughed out loud a few times, too. Coworkers and family got to hear all kinds of things over the few days I was breezing through this work. Good times!
Oh, one other disappointment, less minor, chronologically speaking: surprisingly few citations at the end. A few chapters only had 1 or 2 articles cited, and I really hope it was more of a "selected works, most likely to be interesting/accessible to the everyday reader" and not meant to be a thorough references list. : That would be disappointing.