‘Grunt’ by Mary Roach

gruntstarstarstar“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history. Sometimes a chicken can save a man’s life.”

Mary Roach writes the most interesting and entertaining non-fiction. She’s my favourite science gal geek. When our son was in medical school, I gave him her book called Stiff, subtitled “The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.” She has other fascinating, funny, and informative titles like: Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Couple of Science and Sex, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (that’s the digestive system, I had to look it up). Her books are well researched, never boring, short and to the point, and will have you chuckling no matter how grim or grimy or gruesome the content.

Grunt is about the battles that soldiers face, but not the usual kind of battles you may immediately imagine. There is nothing about military strategy, history of war, or weaponry in this book. Instead Roach deals with the least considered but equally critical adversaries such as heat exhaustion, cataclysmic noise, panic, bacteria, shock, clothing construction, tank and submarine design, and ill-timed gastrointestinal urgency. After reading this book I will look upon the entire military venture with fresh eyes. I have gained an appreciation for all of the hard work that goes into keeping soldiers safe, comfortable and alive. There is a lot of science that goes into this topic and it covers much more than a well proportioned flak jacket! Like hearing loss, the less visible injuries of war can be the hardest kind to have and Roach does an important job of communicating the everyday sorts of challenges that the military faces.

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