Skin: A Natural History

Skin: A Natural History

Skin: A Natural History

Skin: A Natural History

Synopsis

We expose it, cover it, paint it, tattoo it, scar it, and pierce it. Our intimate connection with the world, skin protects us while advertising our health, our identity, and our individuality. This dazzling synthetic overview is a complete guidebook to the pliable covering that makes us who we are. Skin: A Natural History celebrates the evolution of three unique attributes of human skin: its naked sweatiness, its distinctive sepia rainbow of colors, and its remarkable range of decorations. Jablonski places the rich cultural canvas of skin within its broader biological context for the first time, and the result is a tremendously engaging look at us.

Excerpt

Books have legs. After they are published, they enter the lives of others and are transformed. When Skin: A Natural History came out in 2006, I did not know how it would be received. Most of all I hoped that people would find it useful. Six years on, Skin is still getting under the integument of lots of people, in good and unexpected ways. There is something in here for everyone, whether you are a student interested in evolution, a tattoo enthusiast, a dermatologist, or a person who just wants to know more about skin.

Skin is an anthropological book, but not pedantically so. It looks at its subject from all conceivable human angles, beginning with its evolution. Skin as a subject attracts attention because it is something that everyone has and that most people have thought about, and it holds our interest because—in the great inventory of body parts—it is more relevant to our lives as social beings than any other organ, perhaps with the exception of the eye. This book is about how skin has evolved its diverse roles as a physical and social interface and why it continues to be of fundamental importance to all of our lives.

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