Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form

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9780142004647: Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form
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In this amusing and brilliantly conceived book, Michael Sims introduces you to your body. Moving from head to toe, Sims blends cultural history with evolutionary theory to produce a wonderfully original narrative in which he analyzes the visible parts of the body. In this fascinating brew of science and storytelling, readers encounter not only accessible explanations of the mechanics of their anatomy, but also the layers of mythology, religious lore, history, Darwinian theory, and popular culture that have helped to shape our understanding of any given body part. A titillating and unique book, Adam’s Navel is learned and entertaining, a marvelous lens through which to study the form we all inhabit—but may not really understand.

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Review:

Are we more than the sum of our parts? Perhaps, but it's fascinating nonetheless to look at our noses, ears, feet, and other bits as isolated evolutionary stories. That's just what Michael Sims does in Adam's Navel, an amusing collection of bodily facts. Sims wrote the book while laid out recovering from back surgery, jotting free association musings about whatever body part he had in mind. The result is a set of chapters with such titles as "Skin Deep," "The Not-Quite-Naked Ape," and "Our Steed the Leg." Besides anatomy and evolution, Sims turns to literature, movies, comics, and pop culture to glean references. He doesn't have patience for puritanical or non-egalitarian attitudes toward body parts, defending Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues against a "conspiracy of silence" and dismissing Camille Paglia's "nonsensical argument" that male urination is superior to that of females. But Sims doesn't let things get too serious:

The cleft where the buttocks begin to form into two hemispheres--the butt crack famously exhibited by fat plumbers who drop wrenches--was once called the nock. The word survives elsewhere, as the name of an arrow's notch to accommodate the bowstring.

As engaging as it is fact-filled, Adam's Navel brings together delightful anatomical trivia with abundant evidence that we pay as much attention to breasts, fingers, and patches of hair as we do to whole people. --Therese Littleton

About the Author:

Michael Sims is the author most recently of In the Womb: Animals (adapted from two National Geographic Channel documentaries); he is also the author of Apollo's Fire: A Journey through the Extraordinary Wonders of an Ordinary Day, which NPR chose as one of the best science books of 2007; Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a Library Journal Best Science Book; and Darwin's Orchestra: An Almanac of Nature in History and the Arts. For Penguin Classics he also edited The Annotated Archy and Mehitabel and Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief, and he is currently editing The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime. He has written for many periodicals, from the Washington Post to New Statesman.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780670032242: Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0670032247 ISBN 13:  9780670032242
Publisher: Viking Adult, 2003
Hardcover

9780713995688: Adam's Navel : A Natural and Cultural History of the Body

Gardne..., 2003
Hardcover

9780141003610: Adam's Navel : The Weird and Wonderful Story of the Human Body

Gardne..., 2004
Softcover

9780965491686: Adam's Navel - A Natural And Cultural History Of The Human Form

Viking..., 2003
Softcover

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