tv Book Discussion on Grunt CSPAN August 13, 2016 2:15pm-3:01pm EDT
called-- "flute" and looks at the mathematics and science behind occurrences and so i'm going to i went to read food. i think it's so interesting how sometimes something just seems to happen. >> book tv must know what you are reading this summer appeared to be dish or answer a book tv or you can post it on her facebook page, facebook.com. /book tv. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> okay, once more if i can have
your attention please. can everyone hear me back there? also, if you're in the back end if anyone is standing we also have the monitors on there's a monitoring the café and buy one of the registers next to you, so if anyone wants to get a better view you can go to the café or two that monitor out there. again, welcome to book passage. i'm dana kelly. it's a pleasure to have your here it is always a pleasure to have mary roach back. tonight is "grunt". tonight is about what the military has to go through. we are not going to mars tonight. we are going to the front lines and there are some things that i certainly did not know that you will find out tonight about what the military has to go through. i will just mention one which i don't know if mary will talk about tonight and part of the
things we learn in this book is about how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. agreed. quick blurb from the boston globe, mary roach's latest bit of brilliance as meticulously researched and funny, "grunt" examines the science behind war as well as research leading the charge in the state of the its triumph and research and reflection. mary roach, as many of you know is also the author of "packing for mars". spook, science type of afterlife and a stiff, the curious lives of human cadavers and her writing has appeared in about every magazine you can possibly imagine. she will be in conversation tonight with our own jeff greenwald. if you are a fan of travel writing, jeff is the author of five best-selling books.
jeff is also on our factory-- factory. [laughter] >> yeah, jeff fortson are factory. besides that he is also on the faculty of our travel writers conference, so if there are any budding writers and audience tonight you can find out more about our conferences there's a mystery one in july and one in august and jeff will be on the faculty and you can point out all of the information about those before you leave or in our newsletter. without further do would you please welcome mary roach and jeff greenwald. [applause]. >> hello. >> hello. >> will your voice speak for itself? >> i'm a few octave lower and
more sultry. it's not really laryngitis anymore because you can hear me now. anyway, i hope it holds out. we had tea here and it should be good? guest: lets go into it and thank you for everyone for coming. thank you dana for the great introduction. i will start with this question, mary, he works from spouts from various seeds, so what gave birth to "grunt"? guest: actually it was a seed. it was a chili pepper or cry was reporting a piece on the world's hottest chili pepper. i was in india, and someone told me-- i was reporting on this chili pepper and this contest where people eat this unbelievably hot chili pepper and someone said the indian military weapon eyes to this chili pepper and i thought i really need to report on that so i went over to this lab, this
science lab that that indian army maintains and talk to them about the chili pepper, which they never deployed because the man said it was prone to mildew. so, a kind of bombed. the chili exploding chili pepper grenade never was deployed, but wow i was there there were other interesting things going on. they were working on a beach repellent while i was there. that was just right it might alley. i do know a leech repellent, so i was kind of aware of where the idea came from. i thought military science. that's look on the ball rolling. host: that roach of all thing is something i would like to ask you about, so all of your books are wonderful, scientifically enlightening and really funny and kind of breezy.
did you feel any sort of worry about bringing this kind of lightness are breezing as our humor to soldiers, which is kind of sacred in the united states right now your soldiers are our heroes and they sacrifice a lot. i did she feel about bringing your humor to that subject? guest: a lot of trepidation about that. a lot of concern i wanted-- i have two b me. i got a be me. there has to be a mary roach book. it had to be funny and have levity. on the other hand, like you said this is more and people are injured in many ways they didn't want to be disrespectful or make light of things in an inappropriate way, so i tended to make fun of myself as the clueless outsider that i truly was. for example, at one point i have a chapter on basically how to design a vehicle--
basically automotive safety for people who drive bombs. you know, how do you create a vehicle that will keep the passengers safe if a bomb comes up from underneath and they were showing me around this large armored vehicle and they were talking about how it had to be stripped down. you couldn't just keep adding more armor because it would make it so heavy and it would be too heavy for the engine, the brakes etc., so very stripped down inside and i said it's great you still have cupholders and the guy said, mary, those are rightful holders. [laughter] >> that's kind of what happened over and over because i really am not -- i'm not spent any time in the military. my father was very old, 65 when i was born. he actually enlisted in world war i. made it as far as basic training where he got a hernia and that was that for the illustrious roach military career. host: so, in terms of your being
this kind of person who blunders into these situations, you have covered some a subject in the last one was a bit similar perhaps to "grunt", packing for mars where you worked inside a nass in the space program. was it harder to get access to the military or to the space program? guest: you would think the military, but in fact it wasn't as difficult as nasa. the military is very straightforward. it was either-- this project either classified-- if it was not classified people were helpful and willing to kind of help me. the difficulty was, it wasn't that people were saying no, it was that no one felt they had the authority to say yes, so you had like 15 people that said i can't say
yes, but i think you have to ask these people sort of pink pony back and forth so it took a year and half to get on a submarine. again, it was just trying to find a way on their. in that case, partly because i wanted to be only on for a few days, not a month. i do like to immerse myself in reporting, but it has its limits. host: the good news is you can get on. the bad news as you will be on for 12 months. guest: exactly. host: the beauty of your books is in the details and there are details that are unforgettable and one for me is that in a chapter about military uniforms you mention the us government button specification guide picked the button specification guide is 22 pages long and i was amazed to read the army requires the clothing designers have a fashion design degree isn't that sort of eight oxymoron? guest: you think so. surprise as well pick
the woman i was talking to in the design lab where they designed basically accessories for being a soldier, the things you carry, the things you sleep in, the tents, sleeping bags whatever. they have a design lab for the uniforms and this woman had a fashion that degree and her background was in the swimwear designer and i thought that makes no kind of sense to me and she said if you think about it does because a bathing suits is for a specialized activity, athletic activity in a specialized environment. is water, so it has to give, it has to react to the water in a certain way, so in fact she felt her background in swimsuit design was in fact a fairly appropriate one and the other when there had worked for high-end wedding gowns in boston. she said here again,
it's layering of specialty fabric like body armor. [laughter] guest: what certain marriages might need. host: one thing we learn from your book is that some things you would think would be of great danger to soldiers like sharks say if they go overboard are actually no problem at all, but some things you don't think about like diarrhea, which was mentioned are a gigantic problem. why is diarrhea such a grave problem for soldiers? guest: will, let me tell you. [laughter] guest: first of all, historically diarrhea was-- doctor william armor had a great quote, father of modern medicine. i don't know that much about them. he was one who said: dysentery is been more fatal to soldiers than powder or shots. statistics bear that out. the mexican american war
was a good example. seven soldiers died from dysentery and disease, mostly dysentery versus one killed in combat and what would happen is you have these camps and you have the mess tent where you prepare food, no refrigeration and you have like pit latrines and flies unbelievable number of flies also attracted if anybody's were around, so the flies are landing in the latrine material and buzzing over to the beans which were sitting there in the flies would land on the crap and then have these patches on their feet and then they would not collate the food sits there for two hours ended in the whole camp gets dysentery or yellow fever or typhoid fever, so it was a tremendous problem. now, it's not because there is good hygiene on basis. the bases, we have air conditioning, so the
whole dining facility could be sealed and you never had to open a window, so there are no flies anymore, so that's not a problem, but it is a problems and special operations require in a small units or small village in somalia. those people are eating with the locals eat in the waters often not safe in the food in the rates of diarrhea with those folks are very high, twice the rates of ordinary listed soldiers. you can imagine if you are going to take down osama bin laden or whatever your assignment was an you had extreme gastrointestinal urgency, that is a problem for national security. host: do they have any miracle drugs we don't know about? guest: they were testing. i went all the way to djibouti, africa, for the diarrhea chapter. that's just the kind of gal i am. a lot of special operations, navy seal
etc. going out to barry's yemen, somalia, north africa and i went with a diarrhea researcher who is testing a very quick one dose regiment where you would be back on your feet in a matter of hours rather than days, so that's one thing that they were testing. host: top-secret. guest: actually, it will be coming soon to a drug store near you. host: one thing that was interesting is that we take for granted that mexico is like the poster child port travelers, but how mexico when that honor was kind of interesting. guest: if you go on to a database of all the medical journals, most of them anyway, and you put in diarrhea and guadalajara you'll get 35 journal articles. i feel so sorry for guadalajara.
it's like synonymous with diarrhea because herbert dupont, the god fire-- godfather of diarrhea research, honestly this man has done more for counteracting diarrhea than any man on the planet. i don't know if he's retired, but he thought where people getting sick and he set up a lab in guadalajara at the university using students and tourists as his study subjects and published in a lot of papers out of what a lahar sp1 do you think the reason he's never won a nobel prize in medicine is because the nobel community is embarrassed to call him up? host: so, you dressed up at one point for this role as a newbie journalist and some these situations. ..
are amputees who have a latex fleece and a backpack with stage blood that is pumped at an accurate rate and remote control for the bleeding and when the corpsman is putting it on properly it is bleeding slow and if not properly the actor gets very quiet and instructors are screaming, very tense scenario. to get close enough to see what was going on i requested a role, and suggested i play a journalist who gets injured, typecast. that is what i did. >> host: how did the doctors do? did they keep their calm? with their confident about their
abilities? >> the difference between the two day course, the first round of simulations versus the last was determined this difference. the first one, there would be a guy picking up a stretcher, the other guy on the other end, the patient falls off, it's strong the way, backing up and instructors -- using a lot of words i can't use on c-span2. >> host: in the spirit -- >> guest: your adrenaline keeps going, the loud noises and startle response from gunfire even though it is not real. that is important because the fight or flight response, is great if you need to fight.
cut and emergency airway or a turner cut, someone's lung has collapsed. and flooded with adrenaline, makes you shake. and i was afraid for my life, you definitely -- is not a relaxing afternoon. >> host: you became a method actor. one thing i love about your books is scientists you never hear of. some obscure form of research, what a trolleys -- what qualities attract you when you do these books? >> a testament to scientists in
general, they tend to be interesting people. i had no idea what george peck would be like. a self fly and maggot guy, not what i expected. the philosophical soul who loved nature including maggots. they are used to explain, maggots in a will perform the amazing function, encouraging growth of new tissue fighting infection in that way. if it is done surgically in world war ii, horrible rooms and take the maggots out, he was looking into using maggots in walter reed for all the
injuries. >> host: injuries? >> he tried to put this on me. and they were hurt by iuds. sorry. >> that is all right. when an ied goes off, a buried explosive, stand and dirt goes into the wound. maggots into the armory of the surgeon, to get people okay with that. i raise the clutch of maggots for you.
when you arrive they will be the same age as the maggots we introduced into wombs. and had dinner, george peck went away, he came back with what looked like a cut glass bowl with chocolate pudding. they love to eat, he took them, on my fingertip, whatever -- when you take them out of the rotting body, they are very cute. and he was like those mandibles can do what no surgeon's kabul
can do. tremendous respect and passion for these little creatures. i didn't know what i was getting. >> have you heard from george peck? >> to thank me for the book i don't know if he read it but i didn't get feedback. >> he and his maggots are the most memorable -- however many maggots to be in contact with. the strangest programs, armies create a truly noxious stink bomb. it wasn't really a bomb. what actually is it? >> the world war ii one or the more recent one? it is a horrible smell to clear
with bad smells, something that smells like a real latrine and you want to have -- you start with a latrine. and they carry little bottles. burnt hair -- smell people and rape them. where they present, unpleasant? did you find this odor frightening? did you find it edible? it was hard to find a smell that anyone would say it is universally horrible, something like 3% of caucasians, it is
wearable. the one -- one out, feared and hated all over the world us government, a compound in world war ii testing to treat the order and a standardized compound. an open air, hot day. that was the starting play but only the starting point because if you want something not at all familiar, if you can't place her know what the smell is it might be dangerous. it is not only repulsive and scary. the diabolical part, if you are designing a mellow to rent, if you approach a new smell, you
know what it will be. it is fruity and lovely and that encourages you. >> if it is a wine description, how would you describe it? >> with a robust latrine center. the resulting product was called stench soup. >> when you were on fresh air with terry gross you said you are not easily disgusted. that is clear. were there any moments during the writing of this book when you wished even for a moment you were writing about the wine country, napa or something? >> no.
i think probably the closest would be pam dalton sent a bunch of vials to me well named vial. those were gag worthy. i'm not a gag or in general. >> where did you open them? >> out on the deck. we were not opening them indoors. >> that sounds like fun. i hope your husband wasn't reeling at the time. what was the most fun you had working on this book? >> ever since, have you ever seen the film das boot? i love that film. i have been fascinated by submarines and the opportunity to go on board one out at sea, took a long time to set up but
it was really interesting. >> you are on the trident submarine. how long? >> four days. >> did you have the run of the place? >> no. there are parts that are off-limits am a secret, classified information. i was in the enlisted crew lounge at one point and in the corner is a computer printer and it was labeled secret printer. secret printer. i kept hanging out in the crew lounge hoping somebody would come in on the secret printer. a nuclear reactor, the idea is to stay down a long time. the idea is not to be seen or heard, strategic defense, a
third arm of it, being down there under the water for a long time, they don't have to be -- in nuclear reactor -- never to reveal. they can state a long time. my was down 5 days. i went down with a group of prospect of commanding officers, i can go out when they were coming back. >> where did you sleep? >> there are no deluxe accommodations. the closest thing to deluxe accommodation are the people whose beds, a bedpan, the mattress pan is a bunk and some
are set up between the nuclear missile silo. the missile compartment, the stacks in the university library is four levels, very high silos, very quiet, not much going on other than armageddon. armageddon or nothing, very quiet. people who sleep there get a good night sleep. otherwise four or five to iraq and some submarines where depending how big you were, had to roll over to get out and get back on the exact floor going the other way. >> you got to see different phases how the military operates from uniforms, submarines to the work they are doing in surgery,
if you were the roach in chief of the armed forces, and could suggest one change from what you have seen in the military, what would you tell the commander in chief? what would you say you would like to see changed? >> what was suggested in brainstorming session, at wright-patterson air force base in the 90s for nonlethal weapons and there was a guy, a compound to create feelings of brotherly love. i thought he meant something that could spray over the whole front, someone would go why are we here?
i love you. is that what you meant? he said no. in your foxhole, someone is making untoward advances. >> i love it. >> guest: the first version, somebody in israel, and you can buy oxytocin spray in the meeting, they by their ideas, and we dosed ourselves and went out to dinner, and let's pray this over the west bank and the
gaza strip. >> guest: is that we are pumping in? >> host: if you could add one more chapter to the book, what would it be? >> guest: i wanted to embed and be accepted by the us. chaplains go out with units doing root clearance. looking for ieds and because they are right in there with the unit. the ability to empathize support staff and an interesting approach. chaplain doesn't carry a weapon,
and who covers it? and the coalition group, not just the united states that we are talking about, said right now, they are supporting daily journalism. i had an idea about the dental battalion, don't know if there is a potential -- dental battalion. they were not deploying. i wanted to cover medevac, in a vibrating helicopter, firing rpgs isall?
i should bring them stand up and wait for the boom microphone to come to you. are we ready. >> what is your next book? >> excellent question. i wish i knew. i am open to suggestions. i am open to ideas. >> carlson? >> got to get the boom. >> what is the oddest thing you found in your book? >> guest: what would be the
artist thing. maggots breathe through their butts. that is pretty weird. many lovely features, they go head down. at buffet tables. they immersed her head and breathe through their butts. thank you for asking that. >> host: wait for the boom to come down. >> a lot of research, it does this research. do you write your book simultaneously or one at a time? >> one at a time. each book is 15 little books.
a new topic for every chapter and always starting from 0 because i don't know anything about it. we have 15 chapters going at once. one at a time. >> host: questions from back in the room? a sweatshirt or something. >> that book is fantastic. i find myself listening to it during meal times and before bed. leading to some strange dreams. i am wondering if there was something so disgusting you couldn't put it in the book. >> guest: something so disgusting i couldn't put in the book? >> not something too disgusting. always with my book there are a
few places where my editor just crosses it out, no. sometimes it is too gross. of the times i am trying to be funny and it is not appropriate. there was nothing -- there were a couple descriptions when i was in the operating room with surgeons showing the images, graphic. nothing i had the good sense to take out. >> host: sections about the euro general. >> guest: good that i left those out. >> host: sir? >> would you say your greatest shortcoming and esteemed and
highly successful science writer, you work too hard, or too smart. >> guest: that is the best question ever. work too hard or too smart. definitely too hard. get a life, mary. >> how are we doing for questions? one more here. >> what is your educational or experiential background to have a skill in science writing? >> i have a ba in psychology.
my skill is in making another pest of myself, treating them like tutors for hours at a time. that is my skill and expertise, don't have a background -- hey, wait a minute. >> host: you did interesting jobs in the communications department. it would >> host: what is your favorite animal? >> guest: monkeys, chimps, i am a sucker for a chimp.
>> host: one last question. you with the green sweater. >> all the best questions. the military -- >> host: write them a letter. >> guest: this is faster than cipro. this is really hard-core, they are aware of cipro and that is what people carry. better, faster, stronger, $6 million drug. >> i want to thank you all for coming, ladies and gentlemen, mary roach. [applause]