I love Mary Roach! I was so excited when I heard that she had a new book, and even more excited when I managed to get my hands on a copy from the library. It’s exactly what I hoped for: silly and serious and endlessly fascinating.
“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.”
That quote pretty much sums it up. Roach tackles the less known side of the United States military: how uniforms are made. How diarrhea affects the success of campaigns. What it’s really like inside a tank, or a submarine. And of course, how a frozen chicken shot at a plane out of a cannon can give scientists the knowledge they need to save lives.
Her writing style, as always, is funny, self-deprecating and incredibly enthusiastic. She asks every question she can think of, and describes the looks she gets in response. Some of the information is really interesting, particularly what’s done in science labs to improve the performance of everything a soldier uses or touches: his food, his uniform, his equipment, etc. And then she interviews the soldiers, who tell her exactly what they think about those scientists (not always great things). She gets a full view of everything that goes into war, without once touching on politics or any question that asks why — hard to do.