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Spook : science tackles the afterlife
Mary Roach
Adult Nonfiction 129 R

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Roach made an exceptional debut two years ago with Stiff-it might seem a hard act to follow. Yet she has done it again: after her study of what becomes of our mortal coil after death, she now presents an equally smart, quirky, hilarious look at whether there is a soul that survives our physical demise. Roach perfectly balances her skepticism and her boundless curiosity with a sincere desire to know. She ranges into the oddest nooks and crannies of both science and belief (and scientists who believe), regaling the reader with tales of Duncan Macdougall, a respected surgeon who weighed consumptives at their moment of death to see if the escaping soul could be measured in ounces, and of female mediums who, during sEances, extruded a substance called ectoplasm from their private parts (she even examines a piece of alleged ectoplasm archived at Cambridge University). She goes to school to learn to be a medium, subjects her brain to electromagnetic waves to see if they induce the experience of seeing ghosts and joins a group trying to record sounds made by the spirits of the Donner party. The text is littered with footnotes: tangential but delicious tidbits that Roach clearly couldn't bear to leave out. She is an original who can enliven any subject with wit, keen reporting and a sly intelligence. Agent, Jay Mandel. 12-city author tour; 40-city radio satellite tour.(Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This is not about ghosts-rather, science writer Roach (Stiff) looks to science to determine whether the human "soul" exists in death. Unfortunately, neither science nor Roach is up to the task. Three of the 12 chapters deal with contemporary science (infrasound and electromagnetic waves, the personal computer, and the operating room ceiling where University of Virginia cardiologists placed equipment to monitor out-of-body, near-death experiences). The remaining chapters are devoted to such topics as medium school, the weight of a soul, the last surviving ectoplasm sample, and reincarnation. Readers come away with little new information or insight into the question originally posed but with many pieces of arcane trivia. Although deftly written and at times humorous, this book is superficial overall. Recommended for only the largest collections or where Stiff was popular. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/05.]-Michael D. Cramer, Schwarz BioSciences, RTP, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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