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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Waugh, Evelyn: The Loved One | Main | Davis, Anna: Cheet »

Roach, Mary: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

  

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W. W. Norton & Company & 2003, 224 pages [amazon]
4.5 stars

I defy anyone to dislike a book whose first sentence is "The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship." Mary Roach's grand tour of the afterlives of corpses makes for compelling--and very often hilarious--reading. The book opens with the first of many colorful scenes, a roomful of plastic surgeons practicing their grotesque (at the best of times) trade on a bunch of severed heads. "The heads have been put in roasting pans--which are of the disposable aluminum variety--for the same reason chickens are put in roasting pans: to catch the drippings." As this passage illustrates, the author keeps the tone of her book light. She is a clever writer, and she makes the sorts of observations of her grim material that the Mystery Science Theater bots might make.

The book opens with the first of many colorful scenes, a roomful of plastic surgeons practicing their grotesque (at the best of times) trade on a bunch of severed heads.But however light her touch, Roach is describing some truly horrific things. There is, for example, the body farm at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where bodies go to rot for science, their skin sloughing off and their genitalia bloating in full view of researchers and their guests--who leave with their footwear uncleanably soiled with the "liquids of human decay." There is the graduate student who composted a ne'er-do-well to see how efficacious a means of disposal mulch-making might be for third-world countries. ("And because the man was buried whole, Evans had to go out with a shovel and rake to aerate him three or four times.") And there is Roach's attempt--failed--to verify the details of a 1991 Reuter's article which claimed that "a man who worked in a crematorium in Hainan Province was caught hacking the buttocks and thighs off cadavers prior to incineration and bringing the meat to his brother, who ran the nearby White Temple Restaurant." Roach hired an interpreter to facilitate her discussion with the director of the crematorium she believed had employed the buttock-hacker. But how to explain to the interpreter what she needed to know?

"In the cab, I tried to think of a way to explain to Sandy what I was about to have her do. I need you to ask this man whether he had an employee who cut the butt cheeks off cadavers to serve in his brother's restaurant. No matter how I thought of phrasing it, it sounded ghastly and absurd. Why would I need to know this? What kind of book was I writing?"

For those with a strongish stomach, Mary Roach's book is, really, a delightful read. And eye-opening. And  unlike most books, it may have the quite real effect of influencing your after-lifestyle choices. 

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.