Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

by Mary Roach


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393354379
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 121,170
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Mary Roach is the author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.


San Francisco, California

Place of Birth:

New Hampshire


B.A., Wesleyan University, 1981

Table of Contents

By way of Introduction 11

1 Second Skin 19

What to Wear to War

2 Boom Box 51

Automotive Safety for People Who Drive on Bombs

3 Fighting by Ear 77

The Conundrum of Military Noise

4 Below the Belt 101

The Cruelest Shot of All

5 It Could Get Weird 125

A Salute to Genital Transplants

6 Carnage Under Fire 151

How Do Combat Medics Cope?

7 Sweating Bullets 181

The War on Heat

8 Leaky Seals 211

Diarrhea as a Threat to National Security

9 The Maggot Paradox 245

Flies on the Battlefield, for Better and Worse

10 What Doesn't Kill You Will Make You Reek 277

A Brief History of Stink Bombs

11 Old Chum 303

How to Make and Test Shark Repellent

12 That Sinking Feeling 335

When Things Go Wrong Under the Sea

13 Up and Under 365

A Submarine Tries to Sleep

14 Feedback from the Fallen 399

How the Dead Help the Living Stay That Way

Acknowledgements 413

Bibliography 419

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Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and engaging, Roach interviews the quirkieer side o the military. Her airy writing style sometimes comes off as lackadaisical, but most of the time her stories and interviews are interesting and awesome to read. I recomend reading this book if you enjoyed books like "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and "Stiff".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Made me think and made me glad others think about this stuff. Another great book.
MontzieW More than 1 year ago
Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach is another wonderful book by a women that tackles subjects and picks them apart for us readers. I have read all her books and love every one of them. The first few books were so funny that I laughed in every one but she has been getting into my serious stuff lately. She still makes reading light where she can but what I enjoy is that she finds things about the subject, in this case, humans at war, and explores the smallest things that we would never even think of and let's the rest of us know what she finds out. It is truly fascinating the strange and unusual info that is obtained by reading her books. They are never boring and she keeps it lighthearted when she can. She explores and investigates things I never would have thought to investigate. I hope she keeps up the great work and can't wait for her next book. Will keep watch at the library!
WritermomHB More than 1 year ago
How DO We Go to War? Have you ever thought about the tools that a typical soldier carries on his/her back and then marches many miles in a foreign country? Or what food is brought with them? What happens to them if they are wounded? What fabric is chosen for their uniforms and why? How do sailors sleep in a submarine? The author of this book has gone to great lengths to do research on these and many other aspects that affect our military people. Humor has been inserted where it was needed. And there’s plenty of that. So many aspects of our military’s needs are covered that a regular person-on-the-street would not think of. The author has done a great job in her research and her writing. I recommend this book to any adult who is interested in any part of the subject. I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot. I would not necessarily recommend it for children.