** Anatomies by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body is a survey of the human body, mixing science with art, literature, and history, reminding me greatly of Mary Roach’s Gulp, reviewed here a few weeks ago, both for the subject matter, although this book is more comprehensive, its readability, and the author’s ability to undertake personal experiences to serve the goals of the book. One such experience that comes to mind here is blood donation, which underscores the arbitrariness of the rules  for donors in the UK (where the author lives) and the US. Here in the US, residence of a few months’ duration in the UK means being disqualified altogether, while of course there’s no such restriction in the UK, and on the contrary donors are asked whether they have spent significant amounts of time… outside the UK.

I was slightly put off by the healthy dose of Shakespearean quotes at the beginning of the book but do not despair if your knowledge of literature is as inadequate as mine: the rest of the book is more straightforward and accessible.


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