Genre: Popular Science
Published: 7 February 2013
Publisher: Viking

Anatomies: The Human Body, Its Parts and The Stories They Tell


Anatomies is a splendidly entertaining journey through the art, science, literature and history of the human body.

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.

ANATOMIES was chosen as the Sunday Times Science Book of the year for 2013

"More than a science book - it's also history, biography and autobiography - Anatomies is writing at its most refined, regardless of genre. Beginning with his own hands-on experience of an anatomised body, Aldersey-Williams takes us on a journey inside the human body, part by part, organ by organ: in death, city lungs are found to be black and country lungs blueish; a dried-out human skeleton weighs less than its plastic reproduction. And yet as fascinating as the details are, it is the language that enthrals." - The Sunday Times
"Mixing biology, art, literature, and pop culture from the ancient past up to the present, Aldersey-Williams provides an enlightening and thoroughly engaging view of the human body… Humorous, informative, and provocative… From the dissection laboratory to a live-model drawing class, Aldersey-Williams illuminates the contours of the human body from head to toe." - Publishers Weekly
"Anatomies brims with fascinating details... an impressionistic but relentlessly entertaining cultural history of the human body." - The Guardian
"***** He writes like a latter-day Montaigne... a pleasure, as well as an education, to read. With its inter-disciplinary approach, and its elegant combination of scientific rigour with artistic vision, it embodies the very inter-connectedness that is its theme. Written with the heart, and the body, as much as the mind, it produces emotional and sensual, as well as intellectual, vibrations. And in giving the reader access to so much arcane scientific lore, it is a genuinely democratic book. I recommend it to all." - The Telegraph

Other Books by Private: Hugh Aldersey-Williams