Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War explores the amazing innovations that are born when brilliant scientific minds are tasked to problem solve with the astronomical budgets and resources of the United States Armed Forces. Military science is about so much more than just weapons. A military must be able to keep its soldiers clothed, fed, healthy, rested, and protected from a host of extreme, often life-threatening, conditions on and off the battlefield. It is the advances in these crucial areas that are the focus of this fascinating book. Despite the serious nature of the material, Mary Roach’s signature wit and humor are ever-present as she leads readers into the labs and battlefield simulations that save countless lives every day.
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.