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article imageOp-Ed: New Book about Science of War tells a human body story Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Jun 16, 2016 in Science
Oakland - As the patriotism of the 4th of July approaches, people's thoughts usually turn to those soldiers that died fighting for our country.
Mary Roach's new book "Grunt- The Curious Science of Humans At War," would be an appropriate summer read, very informative as well as unique.
It seems readers have have found a book for the summer, because "Grunt" reached USA Today's Best-sellers list on June 8, just days after its initial release. This is her sixth book and like her previous subjects, Roach favors the forensic side of humanity's existence. "I've always been drawn to the study of what's on the slab in the lab," she told this reporter. While she is pleased that the interest in forensic science has been spotlighted in popular culture in recent years, with the various TV series like CSI, NCIS and so on, "I was interested in this type of stuff long before it became popular. The human body and its initial science has always interested me," she said.
And, with 14 chapters on different subjects relating to military pursuits and war, in 'Grunt,' she gets right to the gritty aspects of it. "The human body was not designed to wear armor, she said; and carrying double the body weight and dodge bullets." The first thing discussed, right away in chapter 1 is what to wear in war and how much thought and design goes into the basic solider's uniform.
Naturally, the latest in technology and 'state-of-the-art' goes to anything military. She was quick to point out that her study was simply a scientific one and how it impacts the human body. "Anything military certainly touches upon war. But I avoid politics or policies. It is just a study," she said.
Even simply training and suiting up for war is very taxing on the human body. Each chapter examines the tremendous efforts that are done to ensure military forces are well-equipted, prepared and relatively safe amid dangerous circumstances and uncertain outcomes. In praise of her new book, USA Today said, "Roach is rarely gratuitously creepy. Her curiosity about the inner workings of things that most of us would rather not inspect too closely often yields revelations and, occasionally, even catharsis. In this regard, Grunt ranks high in the Roach repertoire."
 Grunt - The Curious Science of Humans At War  is author Mary Roach s sixth book and like the other ...
"Grunt - The Curious Science of Humans At War" is author Mary Roach's sixth book and like the other books reached the NY Times Bestsellers list in a matter of days.
Courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company
Roach is grateful that all of her unique-subject books have been well received. But, she admitted, "there were a few moments along the journey of this book, where I wasn't sure if all would be okay." Going into a war zone in a faraway country is scary. Like all her books, 'Grunt' was a fascinating excursion into a seldom-examined topic of extreme conditions. "All of my books have had their own special challenges, Roach said. What was different about doing this book was all the bureaucracy I had to go through." And, much of the dilemma was finding out who exactly was in charge of what. "Sometimes it wasn't that no one was willing to help. It was about finding the right person and department I needed to go to. Even when I initially went to the right person, that person had to report to another. It took a lot of patience."
The Seattle Times in announcing her appearing at Seattle Town Hall on June 15, praised Roach for her ability to look at things very comprehensively. And noted that the best-selling author "plays things for laughs, and the raw material is irresistible."
She told me that even though she does see some humor in a subject she writes about, "'Grunt' had sides to it that were not humorous at all. I could not help but have a tremendous respect for our military forces." What made the most impression upon Roach, while on the journey that took two and a half years for this book to be written was the combat medics. "Those who are out on the field, working on the Field Program with the Medical Examiner, putting together the autopsy reports. While the military is using the latest technology to get info fed back quickly to headquarters, the sobering data of casualties is very clear. It's cut and dry, but the amount of data goes into the thousands and thousands of causalities."
Roach will be featured for an live In Deep Radio conversation with journalist Angie Coiro at Menlo Park's Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, at 7:30 p.m. on June 22. For tickets, $10-$40. Published by W.W. Norton and Company, "Grunt - The Curious Science of Humans At War" is now on sale in bookstores and online. To learn more about author Mary Roach and all of her books, visit her website.[/url
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Mary Roach, Grunt The Curious Science of Humans at War, Oakland, California, Bestseller
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