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Anatomies: The Human Body, Its Parts and The Stories They Tell by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Its subject is how we think about the body. In this era of intense research into the human genome, synthetic biology, consciousness and so on, it might almost seem that our physical bodies do not matter. But they do. It is through them that we negotiate the world and each other, and the ways in which we have understood the human body and its constituent parts continue to shape our views of science, medicine, and ourselves in surprising ways.
Anatomies by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, author of Sunday Times bestseller Periodic Tales, is a splendidly entertaining journey through the art, science, literature and history of the human body. "Magnificent, inspired. He writes like a latter-day Montaigne. Stimulating scientific hypotheses, bold philosophic theories, illuminating quotations and curious facts. I recommend it to all". (Telegraph). "Splendid, highly entertaining, chock-full of insights ...It inserts fascinating scientific snippets and anecdotes about our organs into the wider history of our changing understanding of our bodies". (Sunday Times). "A relentlessly entertaining cultural history of the human body ...brims with fascinating details, infectious enthusiasm ...the terrain he covers is so richly brought to life". (Guardian). "Elegant and informative...For Aldersey-Williams, [the body] is a thing of wonder and a repository of fascinating facts". (Mail on Sunday). It is the most fraught and fascinating, talked-about and taboo, unique yet universal aspect of our lives. It is the inspiration for art, the subject of science and the source of some of the greatest stories ever told. It is our most intimate ally against the world, provider of all pleasurable sensations, the repository of all we feel and know. And yet what a source of puzzlement and worry the body is: a home we never chose, a facade that we continually disguise, a protector that we know will fail us in the end. Until we fall ill, most of us take this extraordinarily complicated collection of flesh, bones and fluids entirely for granted. But from ancient body art to plastic surgery, from early anatomists to conceptual artists, grave-robbers to bionic athletes, our changing attitudes to the human body - how it works, what it should look like, how to live with it, what it means - tell us more about ourselves than almost any other subject in human history. Blending history, science, art, literature and the everyday, one of our finest science writers investigates this most marvellous and mysterious of creations. The result is a treasure trove of surprising facts, remarkable stories and startling information that encompasses everything from the first finger-printing to the physiology of angels, from synaesthesia to the clown-egg register, from the death-mask of Isaac Newton to the afterlife of Einstein's brain. Praise for Periodic Tales: "Science writing at its best ...fascinating and beautiful ...if only chemistry had been like this at school meander through the periodic table with him like going round a zoo with Gerald Durrell ...a rich compilation of delicious tales, but it offers greater rewards, too". (Matt Ridley). "Immensely engaging and continually makes one sit up in -surprise". (Sunday Times). "Splendid ...enjoyable and polished". (Observer). "Full of good stories and he knows how to tell them well agreeable jumble of anecdote, reflection and information". (Sunday Telegraph). "Great fun to read and an endless fund of unlikely and improbable anecdotes and often witty". (Financial Times). Hugh Aldersey-Williams studied natural sciences at Cambridge. He is the author of several books exploring science, design and architecture and has curated exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Wellcome Collection. His previous book Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been published in many languages around the world. He lives in Norfolk with his wife and son.

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