Unit 12: GRUNT Reading Response

Final thoughts on Grunt!   What did you think?   What worked particularly well?   Would you recommend this book to others?

Please remember that you will need to post your response and then read other students' responses and post  a reply.

23 thoughts on “Unit 12: GRUNT Reading Response

  1. Rebekah Ulrich

    Personally, I enjoyed reading Grunt. I am a picky reader and Grunt was right on that line where I was enthused through the whole book. It was very factual and things that I knew nothing about, with my husband being in the Army it was interesting to read about all the trials and research that actually go into a soldiers gear. This book definitely is not for everyone but I would absolutely recommend it to specific people that I would think enjoy this style of reading. Mary Roach’s wit and sarcasm/humor through the book was an added bonus and I was able to relate to a lot of what she was saying.

    1. Miranda Jackovich

      I can relate with how the books information translated well with my husband also being in the army. The book can give a reinsurance to those who have loved ones in the military. Which chapter was the hardest for you to read as a spouse? Did Mary Roach’s humor make it easier to read it?

      1. Amber Wofford

        I agree too I am very picky and often lose interest. Bur this had humor and that kept me more interested!

    2. Jessica Hernandez

      I can definitely agree with you in a sense that I am extremely picky about the books I read. When I first started reading this book it was extremely hard for me to enjoy. Once I got past a specific point I started to enjoy the read. Mary Roach’s sarcasm and humor was what really drew me in to continue this read. Thank you for a great semester and best of luck in your future.

    3. Victoria Murdock

      I agree with you when you say this material isn’t for everyone to read, due to the way she humored some things that go on in the military. Every does not understand where she may be coming from or just think she is mocking tragic events, and things in general the soldiers deal with.

    4. Logan Borger

      I agree that this book is not for everyone, as she does how she uses humor to make things easier to talk about, and this could come across poorly to certain people. However, there are definitely people out there that would benefit from reading it. It’s cool that you could relate more personally to the book in a certain sense.

  2. Jessica Hernandez

    When reading this book I found a lot of information that I personally never really heard about. I being a military brat then becoming a wife, I personally felt like I learned a lot. The research and trials that they did for our soldiers seemed very fascinating. I personally liked the book and would recommend on the lines of learning more of how things were put together in a sense.

    1. Lindsey Paulsen

      Much of the information I read I had also never heard about. I am glad that you, too, found it fascinating. There is so much valuable history and hard work involved in our military and this book outlined it all.

    2. Jerry Carroll

      I agree. I didn’t realize the amount of work being put in to help protect the soldiers.

  3. Victoria Murdock

    Finally a front line experience with the ways of the military. Although I am a spouse of a U.S Army Soldier we don’t get near the enthusiastic conversations as this book had. I enjoyed reading it and asking my husband questions about what I read just to hear it first hand with any experiences he may have encountered. I would love to re-read this book.

    1. Lane Ito

      That’s great! I think it is a great opportunity to learn from a person with first-hand experiences on the battlefield.

    2. Travis Winterton

      I’m sure you had a very unique perspective when it came to reading this book. What were some of the questions did you ask you’re husband by the way, and has he heard or even experienced some of the accounts that were described in the story?

  4. Lane Ito

    The last four chapters of Grunt were among the best in the whole book. Out of these chapters, I was not astounded by Chapter 13, but I especially liked the concepts on shark repellent and autopsies. Finally, a statement at the end of Chapter 14 contains a strong message to any person who has never experienced a war, or seen war-related media.

    “Let’s start with the good news. Human urine does not attract sharks. When presented with anywhere from half a teaspoon to a third of a cup, blacktip sharks in Tester’s tanks took no interest. Neither excited nor repelled, the sharks simply noted the substance, as evinced by a quick turn, or “swirl,” which is, I guess, how one acknowledges pee in the pool when one has no eyebrows to raise or shoulders to shrug (Ch. 11, pg. 213).”

    “Why then, do sharks hang around life rafts? For what’s underneath. Schools of fish loiter there. Either for shade or to feed on smaller marine life that gathers to take shelter on the raft’s underside (Ch. 11, pg. 216).”

    I had no idea that human urine does not interest sharks. From what I know about a carnivorous animal’s feeding habits, foul-smelling odors can either attract or repel them from a potential meal. Additionally, I already knew smaller fish gather around larger ocean animals in order to be overlooked by predators, but it does not always work. This is understandable with life rafts, because they are not quite as durable or sheltering as Sargasso weed, a seaweed cluster which drifts with ocean currents.

    “The “pine plug” is just a wood cone, an object more commonly seen in building block sets or geometry classrooms. The tip of the cone is hammered into the hole as far as it will go. As the pine absorbs water, which pine does more greedily that most woods, the cone expands, becoming a snugger fit and a more effective plug (Ch. 12, pg. 224).”

    “Given that most US ballistic missile submarines today spend the bulk of their time in oceans that bottom out deeper than their crush depth, the term “iron coffin” has regained some accuracy. Crush depth is the point at which the hull succumbs to the extreme water pressure and the sub implodes. John Clarke likens it to putting a submarine inside a giant bomb. The sub shatters inward (Ch. 12, pg. 231).”

    “One student backs out of the ascent. You can tell who he is by the red bathrobe; everyone else’s is tan or blue. This isn’t done to shame him; no one but the staff knows the significance of being “red-robed.” It’s a way to alert them to keep a watchful eye out, in case a medical issue develops. In this case, the boy was just scared. He confesses fear of drowning. I glance at his bare feet for the traditional Navy “anti-drowning tattoos”: permanent inkings of a pig and a chicken, on each foot. Because when old frigates sank, pigs and chickens from the ship’s hold could be seen floating on the water’s surface (Ch. 12, pg. 236).”

    When I read about the “pine plug,” I was unaware that pine wood absorbs water faster than most other woods. Additionally, referring to submarines as “iron caskets” is appropriate since military submarines spend the majority of their time past beyond their crush depths, and military submarines can go no deeper than 2000 feet below sea level. Finally, the “anti-drowning tattoos” of a chicken and a pig made no sense when I read it. I know chickens cannot swim, but pigs can swim for a short time, but the tattoos being a pig and a chicken felt completely ludicrous.

    “At the peak of the Iraq war, twenty or thirty bodies passed through this room each week. Since 2004, around six thousand autopsies have taken place here. Every person (and dog) who dies in the service of the US military is autopsied. It was not always this way. Before 2001, autopsies were reserved for cases in which there was no witness to the death, or the cause was not obvious. Stone gives the example of all suspected homicide, then pauses. “Though technically it’s all homicide.” Homicide, from the Latin homo, for man, and —cidium, the act of killing. He means murder: prosecutable homicide (Ch. 14, pg. 270).”

    “But then you see them back there …” Seguin means in the autopsy room. “That’s a whole different experience. It’s too sad.” I can barely hear him. “These are all young people. Our kids. It makes you ask questions. Like, Was it worth it?” (Ch. 14, pg. 271)

    “Only when you step back and view the sum, only then are you able to grasp the worth, the justification for the extinguishing of any single point. Right at the moment, it’s tough to get that perspective. It’s tough to imagine a stepladder high enough (Ch. 14, pg. 272).”

    Chapter 14 was by far the best chapter in the selection of Chapters 11-14. I found it strange to think every dog who died serving the military would be autopsied along with the people who died the same way. Additionally, the paragraphs near the end of the chapter state how the new recruits in the military are all young people in their early 20s, and asks if the sacrifices they made were worthy.

    Overall, I enjoyed this final set of chapters, and the statements at the end concerning future generations who lost their lives on the battlefield. All in all, war is meaningless in terms of what is truly important, like the young people who are just beginning their adult lives. War has primarily been fought because of conflicting religions, and people wanting independence from other nations. When thought carefully, governments must determine if the cause outweighs the cost of lives, resources, etc. In general, this book was not what I expected, but I was glad to learn new things about the army, and ponder the lives of soldiers who fought for what they believed was right.

    1. Xiaofei Zhang

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the last four chapters! I also had no idea that it was the seal smell that polar bears would be attracted to. The last four chapters are definitely my favorite chapters in this book.

  5. Lindsey Paulsen

    I personally really enjoyed reading Grunt. I found it interesting that each chapter brought up uncomfortable, strange, uncommonly discussed topics and aspects of the military. Thing’s I’d never even considered were confirmed by the book, and I had a fun time learning about things that people not in this class would normally learn. Whether it’s a red underwear fad, or dysentery. I never really realized how much work and money goes into just military gear! Also, the chapter on stink bombs was fun for me because there was some good sarcastic, dry humor in it. Overall the book taught me much in an entertaining way. Although I had fun reading it, I do not know many people who would feel the same (in my friend group), so I probably will not have anyone to recommend it to, except maybe my father. This was definitely one of the funnest books I have read in my academic career.

  6. Xiaofei Zhang

    ​I thought that Grunt was a terrific story that allowed us to understand more about humanity’s complexities. Furthermore, I really loved the story due to how realistic it was and how descriptive it was. The author wrote the story as if you were placed inside of the characters’ shoes, and I think that many stories with complex themes such as the ones in Grunt try to side step this due to the harshness of reality. The story was also very educational and informative, something that is always important to me since I love to learn about new things through reading.

    ​I loved the hypothetical questions that we were asked throughout the story. The story contained some things that made one stand up and be a bit shocked, such as polar bears being attracted to tampons due to the vaginal smell that it gives off. Furthermore, the story said that it was something that smelled like a seal and that the polar bears would be attracted to it, especially when they are hungry. It was not so much the blood that the polar bears would be attracted to, which I found very interesting. I have always thought that polar bears were fierce predators that would attack anything, but I suppose that they are a bit more complex than that. I also found it shocking how the army does not have any specific protocols to deal with shark attacks. The story said that if a soldier senses danger they are told to blow bubbles and yell.

    ​I would recommend this story to a friend, as I believe it is interesting and has some hidden themes that do not meet the naked eye unless one looks deeply into the diction the author uses. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the chapters we’ve just finished that talked about shark repellants, and who knows, it may be useful in the future.

  7. Travis Winterton

    Personally, I found grunt as a whole to be a very interesting an insightful read into an aspect of our military that the public doesn’t always often get to see portrayed in most mainstream media. I almost felt like it was an extensive “behind the scenes” style of insight. I found all of the different stories to be an interesting read (although I found a few more interesting than other). I also felt like that Roach did a great job in finding a balanced in engaging funny storytelling with and interesting factoids and excerpts all without it becoming too much of an info dump that can turn away a lot of casual readers like myself. As a person who hasn’t read a lot of non-fiction science books/informative books in most of my life, I found Roach to be just as equally engaging especially with the many stories of the personal and at times surprisingly emotional insights and first hand experienced some of interviewed soldiers and scientist themselves, as well as the many wired government approved experiments and research that was brought up (Shark repellent was easily the most absurd). I think this book is an easy recommend for those who want to try reading more fiction/science based books, are have any particular interest with any part of our military but understandably this book may not be for everyone as at times the book does describe and depict very graphic imagery that make some people feel uncomfortable reading. Otherwise I very much enjoyed this reading.

  8. Miranda Jackovich

    The Grunt did a great job incorporating the science that goes into a soldier’s safety. Mary Roach was able to use her humor and charisma to make difficult topics easier to discuss. ““They’re like dolls.” I’m not sure where he’s buying his dolls. I look at Stone “He means porcelain dolls,” Stone says.”(Roach 271) Roach often put herself into the research itself that she was writing on. Her perspective gave insight to those who have no connections to the military, allowing them to understand it better. It also is a great read for those who live a military life. Overall the book was a educating read, showing how important science is to our protection.

    1. Conall Birkholz

      I agree how the way Roach incorporated herself directly into the scientists experiments or in research lab with them, really gave a good insight into something a lot of us would see as foreign. She allowed us to look into these parts of the scientific community that we would’ve probably never encountered once in our lives, and because of this I also found the book very educating.

  9. Conall Birkholz

    Grunt was a very interesting read that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in science, history, or military related media. I am a fan of all of these categories so reading through the book at no point was I bored. The historical information, tied into the modern military of the United States, really brought the science and its progression in the military full circle. I definitely learned a lot of things from this book as well. It never would’ve occurred to me that putting live fly larvae into a wound would clean it of bad bacteria and rotten flesh and prevent infection. Multiple stories like these I had heard about briefly, but had never really looked into them. Getting the full story behind why some of these things are done and how military scientists go about testing concepts and materials and equipment was very interesting.

    I think the book brings to light how everything a soldier does from sleep, to eat, to taking time off or wearing a certain pair of underwear, all somehow effects him/her in some way and how they will be prepared for their next fight. While guns, advanced technologies, and other impressive military equipment gets a lot of attention, this book makes apparent that something we might think trivial, like knowing how much water to drink before, during, and after a patrol, is just as important or even more important than say some new military tech. This book made me aware that their are a lot more variables and factors to consider when it comes to combat and preparing troops for it.

  10. Jerry Carroll

    I enjoyed reading Grunt, it was a good book. It outlines the amount of research that is going on behind the scenes in the military. The amount of research, and the thoroughness, really surprised me. They put a lot of time and effort into every little detail to help protect our military.

  11. Logan Borger

    I enjoyed the book. It had some very interesting subjects that I had not thought about previously. It is truly amazing all the research out there being done for the military and interesting to see all of the potential for future research. I really enjoyed delving into some of the psychological aspects of the soldiers facing certain traumas. There were some fairly graphic sections, but overall, I didn’t experience too much trouble reading. Roach’s writing style was pretty relaxed and made it decently easy to read. Paired with the amount of content in the book, it is very easy to get sucked in. I would recommend this book to some people, but definitely not everyone. Anyone who may have experienced war trauma or felt the effects of it, I would not be overly eager to recommend this book, as it could potentially cause some harm. Roach’s use of humor is alright for some audiences, but it is definitely not for everybody.

  12. Amber Wofford

    Grunt was better than I thought it was going to be. I learned a lot because I do not have much knowledge about the science that goes along with the military or even about the military in general. Her personal perspective really made it much easier to relate and understand the perspective. I know some information about trauma and PTSD, this book might not be suited for people who have a similar experiences or stronger opinions on the subject.

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