Book Review : Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Mary Roach is one of those authors who is simply a joy to read.  I previously read and reviewed Grunt, her book about the science of the military.  Packing for Mars is about the science behind making it possible for man to survive in the hostile environment of space.

The book itself is 217 pages of text divided into 16 topical chapters.  There is an acknowledgments section, bibliography, and an index.

Each chapter is topical and covers some aspect of survival in space.  All of the topics are covered thoroughly but Roach’s lively writing style takes what would otherwise be a dry and/or boring topic and makes it both entertaining and informative.

The chapters that I found the most interesting were the chapters that discussed the theories of how the human body would adapt or not to a weightless environment and the chapters on the first animals in space.

Mary Roach has the unmatched ability to get the reader interested in otherwise obscure science that probably does not impact them in a direct way but is profound beyond its surface mundanity.  Whether this is such mundane topics as what astronauts eat to how they go to the toilet she writes such that these seemingly boring topics are transformed into page turners that make you laugh.

This is an excellent book and even if you don’t space fascinating this book is worth reading if nothing else for it’s pure entertainment value.


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