Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

(hb: 2016: nonfiction/science)

From the inside flap:

"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."


In Grunt, Roach explores the scientific and non-combative side of military life. Like her other books, this is fun, informative and wry, a read that bridges the gap between those readers seriously interested (or otherwise invested) in the book's subjects and those who are mildly curious about said subjects -- or merely reading it because Roach wrote it. This is worth checking out from the library for the mildly curious and worth owning for those who are fascinated by the subjects at hand.

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