Oh, the places Mary Roach has gone! She’s floated in zero gravity, she’s stuck her hand inside a cow, and she’s gotten busy in an MRI machine. Now she’s on to something completely different: the military. Turns out there is a lot of science that goes into equipping our men and women in uniform, and much of it is quite bizarre. I cracked up twice during the first chapter alone.— Kat
Rather than focusing on big guns and bravado, Roach sheds light on the less discussed aspects of the military and answers questions most of us would not think to ask. What makes the gadgets work and how are they tested? What do fashion designers look for when creating a military uniform? What advances have we made in genital reconstructive surgery? Her signature wit had me fascinating by topics I would never have otherwise explored.— Jade
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.