October 5, 2021

Mary Roach

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome beloved science writer MARY ROACH for a discussion of her latest book, Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law, as well as the new edition of her bestselling classic Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. She will be joined in conversation by acclaimed medical historian LINDSEY FITZHARRIS, author of The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine.


What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. These days, as New York Times bestselling author Mary Roach discovers, the answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.

Roach tags along with animal-attack forensics investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and "danger tree" faller blasters. Intrepid as ever, she travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Indian Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square in the early hours before the pope arrives for Easter Mass, when vandal gulls swoop in to destroy the elaborate floral display. She taste-tests rat bait, learns how to install a vulture effigy, and gets mugged by a macaque.

Combining little-known forensic science and conservation genetics with a motley cast of laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals as much about humanity as about nature’s lawbreakers. When it comes to "problem" wildlife, she finds, humans are more often the problem―and the solution. Fascinating, witty, and humane, Fuzz offers hope for compassionate coexistence in our ever-expanding human habitat.

About Author(s)

Mary Roach is the author of five best-selling works of nonfiction, including GruntStiff, and, most recently, Fuzz. Her writing has appeared in National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. She lives in Oakland, California.

Lindsey Fitzharris is the author of The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine, which won the PEN / EO Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing, and has been translated into twenty languages. Her TV series The Curious Life and Death of … appeared recently on the Smithsonian Channel. She contributes regularly to the Wall Street JournalScientific American, and other publications, and holds a Ph.D. in the History of Science and Medicine from the University of Oxford. She lives in Britain.