Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

by Mary Roach
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: 9781324036081
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/04/2022
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 200,434
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Mary Roach is the author of five best-selling works of nonfiction, including Grunt, Stiff, and, most recently, Fuzz. Her writing has appeared in National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. 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 13

1 Second Skin 18

What to wear to war

2 Boom Box 40

Automotive safety for people who drive on bombs

3 Fighting by Ear 56

The conundrum of military noise

4 Below the Belt 72

The cruelest shot of all

5 It Could Get Weird 88

A salute to genital transplants

6 Carnage Under Fire 104

How do combat medics cope?

7 Sweating Bullets 124

The war on heat

8 Leaky Seals 142

Diarrhea as a threat to national security

9 The Maggot Paradox 164

Flies on the battlefield, for better and worse

10 What Doesn't Kill You Will Make You Reek 184

A brief history of stink bombs

11 Old Chum 202

How to make and test shark repellent

12 That Sinking Feeling 222

When things go wrong under the sea

13 Up and Under 242

A submarine tries to sleep

14 A Feedback from the Fallen 264

How the dead help the living stay that way

Acknowledgments 273

Bibliography 277

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