Let's start our journey with a pop-culture book by Mary Roach entitled STIFF (W.W. Norton and Co., 2003). In this little book, she addresses "The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers". Strangely enough, it is written in a witty and somewhat irreverent style but maintains an accurate and informative structure throughout. It is really mainly about the body, as most of the chapters explore how cadavers are used for research, from medical and dental schools to manufacturers of safety gear and military/forensic testing. Some chapters address historical cases of body snatching for anatomists, the physiological and philosophical difficulties of how to determine the moment of death, and even the author's own decision about being a body donor. This book is an excellent introduction to the cadaver as a resource and how this amazing organism continues to inform us after its death. For those not comfortable with the more graphic and disturbing literature that is out there or even the general idea of death, this book would be a good practical start.
- Dying to Know: Introduction
- I'm Dead—Now What?
- Help for the Living: Organ, Tissue, and Whole Body Donation
- My Body and the Pathologist: The Autopsy
- Beauty in Death
- The Eternal Flame
- Souls on Ice
- Wayward Bodies
- Going Out in Style
- Black Tie Affairs
- From Earth to Earth
- A Hand from the Grave
- Say it Gently: Words, Sayings and Poetry about the Dead
- plus a Glossary and ten Appendices
In future blogs I plan to explore how we picture death, how we collect artifacts and memorialize the dead. If you can suggest topics or resources that would be appropriate here, please feel free to submit them.