War. Mention it and most of us think of history, of conflicts on foreign soil, of heroism and compromise, of strategy and weapons. But there’s a whole other side to the gruesome business of the battlefield.
In Grunt, the inimitable Mary Roach explores the science of keeping human beings intact, awake, sane, uninfected and uninfested in the bizarre and extreme circumstances of war. Setting about her task with infectious enthusiasm, she sniffs World War II stink bombs, tests earplugs in a simulated war zone and burns the midnight oil with the crew of a nuclear submarine. Speaking to the scientists and the soldiers, she learns about everything from life-changing medical procedures to innovations as esoteric as firing dead chickens at fighter jets. Engrossing, insightful and laugh-out-loud funny, this is an irresistible ride to the wilder shores of modern military life.