Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body (2020)

Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body Hugh Aldersey-Williams Anatomies A Cultural History of the Human Body The human body is the most fraught and fascinating talked about and taboo unique yet universal fact of our lives It is the inspiration for art the subject of science and the source of some of the
  • Title: Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body
  • Author: Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • ISBN: 9780393348842
  • Page: 383
  • Format: Paperback
Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body Hugh Aldersey-Williams The human body is the most fraught and fascinating, talked about and taboo, unique yet universal fact of our lives It is the inspiration for art, the subject of science, and the source of some of the greatest stories ever told In Anatomies, acclaimed author of Periodic Tales Hugh Aldersey Williams brings his entertaining blend of science, history, and culture to bear onThe human body is the most fraught and fascinating, talked about and taboo, unique yet universal fact of our lives It is the inspiration for art, the subject of science, and the source of some of the greatest stories ever told In Anatomies, acclaimed author of Periodic Tales Hugh Aldersey Williams brings his entertaining blend of science, history, and culture to bear on this richest of subjects.In an engaging narrative that ranges from ancient body art to plastic surgery today and from head to toe, Aldersey Williams explores the corporeal mysteries that make us human Why are some people left handed and some blue eyed What is the funny bone, anyway Why do some cultures think of the heart as the seat of our souls and passions, while others place it in the liver A journalist with a knack for telling a story, Aldersey Williams takes part in a drawing class, attends the dissection of a human body, and visits the doctor s office and the morgue But Anatomies draws not just on medical science and Aldersey Williams s reporting It draws also on the works of philosophers, writers, and artists from throughout history Aldersey Williams delves into our shared cultural heritage Shakespeare to Frankenstein, Rembrandt to 2001 A Space Odyssey to reveal how attitudes toward the human body are as varied as human history, as he explains the origins and legacy of tattooing, shrunken heads, bloodletting, fingerprinting, X rays, and .From Adam s rib to van Gogh s ear to Einstein s brain, Anatomies is a treasure trove of surprising facts and stories and a wonderful embodiment of what Aristotle wrote than two millennia ago The human body is than the sum of its parts.
Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body Hugh Aldersey-Williams

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One thought on “Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body

  1. Nikki

    As the Guardian s cover endorsement points out, this is a cultural history rather than a science book, really It talks about art a lot, as well as discussing cultural attitudes to various bodyparts and some references to scientific understanding of them though, honestly, not that much I didn t really learn anything It missed out some cultural stuff I would consider significant e.g the Egyptian disregard of the brain in embalming It s mostly just anecdotal entertaining, but not very enlightening [...]

  2. Chalchihut

    On the top of the cover it says The Sunday Times Science Book of the Year Never trust the covers, especially the bestsellers or some newspapers choice titles I can say that this book is rather a historical and cultural book which is related to the parts of the human body Therefore I didn t experience what I expected, nevertheless I really enjoyed the content of the book.Could it have been a better book Maybe In the end, human body and how it has been seen throughout the centuries isn t an easy s [...]

  3. Brian Clegg

    Author Hugh Aldersey Williams had a real success with his chemical elements book Periodic Tales, so was faced with the inevitable challenge of what to do next He has gone for a medical tour of the body, intending to reach into the bits we don t normally find out about to uncover the hot research topics.After a quick canter through the history of the way we view our bodies he breaks it down for a bit by bit exploration If I m honest, basic biology especially human biology is not a topic that thri [...]

  4. Lotte

    An enjoyable trawl through the body Not an extensive biological book, but informative nonetheless I spent a good fifteen minutes contorting my hand into a silly pose to confirm what I was reading at one point Occasionally the author seems to enjoy his cultural references and own prose a tad too much I also suspect he s a terrible dinner party name dropper However, a likable read and had my reading not been rudely interrupted by the inconvenience of having to finish my dissertation, probably a qu [...]

  5. Layne

    Overall an interesting read and not one I regret picking up however, it seemed to lack the connective tissue usually present in well done pop science books Mary Roach being my favorite writer in that vein, puns intended.

  6. Shannon Montalbano

    I ll have to admit I was a tad disappointed I thought the symbolism on every aspect of the human body was interesting, but I thought it would break down the mechanisms To a point, I enjoyed it, just not what I was expecting.

  7. Waleed

    A rambling mess Intermittently interesting as a cultural history, but the science is all over the place.

  8. Jo Bennie

    Aldersey Williams takes us on a guided tour of a subject that is both earthily familiar and a great unknown to us our own bodies He writes fluently about the history of how our bodies have become known through science and literature, and how that understanding has changed over the centuries He moves from introducing us to the men and women such as Galton and Hippocrates who have helped us understand the functions of the body to quoting Shakespeare who speaks a great deal about the body, as metap [...]

  9. Marion [Overdue Book Reviews]

    Thoughts while reading 1 Interesting voice of the book It feels like a series of well prepares lectures I m enjoying it, but I also enjoy attending lectures 2 Not as much of a scientific book More anecdotal stories about organs or regions V diff from what I m used to reading 3 I still wish this had a spark either funnier or detailed or focused on either culture or science or something For example, the chapter on the heart meandered all over the place and touched on many issues that relate to t [...]

  10. Kerfe

    The author considers the body and its different parts, both scientifically and culturally He goes off on tangents of relationships for instance speaking of tattoos when considering skin , some interesting than others I learned a lot, and enjoyed the journey.

  11. Andreas Schmidt

    ChiacchiereAldersey Williams riesce a riempire di chiacchiere un intero libro, ed essere estremamente prolisso, per non dire sostanzialmente nulla, o veramente poco di nuovo La struttura del libro divisa in modo molto discutibile in questi capitoli mappare il tutto, carne, ossa, le parti, la testa, il volto, il cervello, il cuore, il sangue, l orecchio, l occhio, lo stomaco, la mano, il sesso, il piede, la pelle, il futuro In tutta questa suddivisione estremamente personale, vengono rimescolati [...]

  12. Erin Britton

    In Anatomies Hugh Aldersey Williams takes a long, hard look at the gruesome glory that is the human body Inspired by the perplexing decline in efficiency of his bladder, Aldersey Williams sets out to discover why bodies or, rather, their constituent parts work and fail in the ways they do and why said bodies remain so mysterious to their owners In doing this, he takes the reader on an intriguing journey through the history of medicine and physiology, including a healthy dose of superstition and [...]

  13. Book

    Anatomies A Cultural History of the Human Body by Hugh Aldersey Williams Anatomies is an accessible book on how the body works and doesn t from a cultural perspective The book is full of historical anecdotes, biological information, and some interesting tidbits The book is engaging but not as scientifically informative as I would have liked Further, even the anecdotes lack the panache of say a Sam Kean or a Mary Roach This mixed bag 321 page book is broken out into the following three main parts [...]

  14. Rogério Alvarenga

    Eu sou eu e meu corpo Mais que isso Meu eu o meu corpo e o meu corpo sou eu E ainda eu ao mesmo tempo tenho e sou um corpo , nas palavras do soci logo Bryan Turner Ou como disse o fil sofo Epicteto com uma pitada de macabro Voc uma pequena alma que anda por a carregando um cad ver ris vel , principalmente porque esse riso a nega o de tudo o que fazemos com o corpo e que, ao que nos parece, diz quem somos enquanto esp cie a despeito de quem acreditamos ser individualmente Ou o homo defaecans , o [...]

  15. Bonnie Wells

    So I m no connoisseur of non fiction, but I m not opposed to a good dose of unadulterated knowledge every now and then I like books, I like history, I like stories I love to get a well educated and experienced person talking and just sit and listen I love to hear about the things these people think and feel, and what learning they have to impart to me No surprises, lecture style courses are my favorite at my university.Reading Anatomies was like listening to really good lecture, a la the type of [...]

  16. Nithya Ezhilchelvan

    I was expecting of what, I m not quite sure Some parts were interesting but overall I was bored and I wasn t expecting to be bored I much preferred the author s book on the elements Periodic Tales.

  17. Danielle Shields

    Read book reviews at Dani s Trekking Bookshelf I was excited at first to read Hugh Aldersey Williams take on the human body, in Anatomies, because I was interested in learning about how ideas of the body have developed our culture For example, how the heart has become the love symbol and how we see it on such things as Milton Glaser s New York I Love You.I first became worried that Anatomies was going to be quite a scientific book albeit dumbed down when I realised that the Prologue was 19 page [...]

  18. Byron Edgington

    Very engaging, informative even fun reading about our body, the entity that encapsulates us, keeps us relatively free from harm, disease free and durable until the allotted three score and ten Many items of minutiae uncovered by Mr AW s deep research the history of circulation of the blood, for example Was it Harvey Or was it a Muslim physician 300 years prior A bit of cultural bias perhaps Fascinating stuff appears, such as the seemingly insignificant detail that grave robbers snatching bodies [...]

  19. Rob

    Hugh Aldersey Williams is an engaging writer, here tackling what is essentially a look at the human body as we humans have seen and perhaps should see the body He comments liberally on famous works of art and brings in many cultural and historical touchstones Those desiring a purely biological dissection of the body although we do indeed get some meaty dissections may find this altogether too arty Being well down with arty, especially when it happens to meet up with some of the real data, I mus [...]

  20. Paul

    Having read his book Periodic Tales and really enjoyed this, I was really looking forward to this one.The book is split into three sections, The Whole, The Parts and The future.The first section looks at the the history of anatomy, from the grim ways that early medical studies were undertaken on cadavers that were acquired from executions or other dubious means There are lots of gross things in this part, I won t enlighten you completely, but it was a grim and sordid task He also gets to meet hi [...]

  21. Carol

    Anatomies A Cultural History of the Human Body by Hugh Aldersey Williams is sort of a survey of the cultural background of the body That means that the subject matter can stretch very far I enjoyed reading about the topics that he picked out The book reads smoothly and I think is best when to read a few chapters at time so you can have sink in time I had the unusual circumstance of reading about MRI machines while I was waiting to have a brain MRI So the facts were doubly fascinating to me I had [...]

  22. Catherine

    Aldersey Williams kept changing tense without warning, frequently mid paragraph I think he intended to emphasize personal experiences, like when he dissects an eye or attends a figure drawing class, but it was distracting and unnecessary He also stuck to Western cultural perspectives, rarely mentioning other world perspectives on the human body and anatomical references A note at the beginning warned that he would use common terms for anatomy, but then he referred to the vulva as the vagina and [...]

  23. Tony

    ANATOMIES A Cultural History of the Human Body 2013 Hugh Aldersey WilliamsWhen I picked this book from the library, I wasn t sure what a cultural history of the body would encompass Now I know The author takes a look at our bodies, organ by organ, and relates the history of our knowledge about them He has to start out, however, with the knowledge we had in the early days mostly concerned with how that particular organ controlled what portions of our life and personalities This was primarily from [...]

  24. Tom Halliwell

    A meandering and somewhat desultory walk from organ to organ in the human body, the book explores cultural snippets from history, art, and literature in relation to bodily organs, limbs, and fluids It was a curious read at the time, but thinking back on it, not a lot of it stayed with me If there were and better pictures, it could perhaps be a good coffee table book As it is, there is a lot of biology and some culture, but not much for a person not already enthralled with the human body It s a [...]

  25. Alicia

    I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in a giveaway, and am providing my honest opinion in return This book was refreshing to read because it was well researched and well written I give kudos to the author on tackling such a heavy topic At first I was unsure as to how much light this book could shed on the human anatomy, which I thought was already a well covered topic After finishing this book, all I can say is WOW I am extremely impressed at the enormous amount of resear [...]

  26. Roger

    This book was a big disappointment for me I was expecting scientific and medical information on the function of the tissues and organs that make up the human body Instead, most of each chapter was concerned with historical perspectives and trivia, which I personally found uninteresting So much so that I gave up reading the book part way through the chapter on the head I regret that I found it too boring to continue.Obviously, others may find this treatment of anatomy of remarkable interest, but [...]

  27. Jenn

    I received an advance reading copy of this book in a giveaway by the publisher Having always been interested in anatomy and physiology, I thought that the book offered some interesting insights that I had not come across before I enjoyed the author s writing style anytime a book is scientific in nature, it runs the risk of being overly technical and boring to a layperson but that is not the case here This book is a relatively quick, interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone who s inter [...]

  28. Shana Yates

    3.5 stars Entertaining tour of the human body, managing to expertly blend medicine, science, history, culture, and philosophy The author structures the book around the body s landscape from individual organs with the heart and liver getting thorough treatment , to blood and skin, to the hand and the foot and other ahem appendages But beyond this, he talks about how these various parts were thought of, how they work, their changing status over time, as well as how we think of our own bodies, gend [...]

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