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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Mary Roach has a way of turning scientific facts and wonky research into funny, surprising romps. Here, the author of Stiff and Gulp turns her ever-curious eye to the seemingly endless—and somewhat absurdist—research operations housed within the U.S. military. We learned about the people and experiments trying to come up with apocalypse-proof fabrics, a cure for travelers’ diarrhea, shark repellent, and more. Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War is a fascinating, entertaining, and jaw-dropping read.
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.
The Marine Corps does not have medics; we have Navy Corpsman. We also aren't Soldiers, that is like calling a Japanese man Korean. I'm sure the book is great, but the summary just tickled me wrong a little.
I’ve never been one to have a blind eye to what the members of our armed forces do for us, but Mary Roach opens both of these eyes a lot wider. Many thanks to Mary and the thousands of men and women this book is a tribute to. Great book!
Written with clarity and an even hand. Not handled with exaduration or sensationalism. All mary roachs books are worth a read. Wonder what area of life she will think of next.