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A Natural History, With a New Preface

Nina G. Jablonski (Author)

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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.
Nina G. Jablonski is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color (UC Press). Her research on human skin has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, and other publications.
“In Skin, her fascinating, nuanced, often exhilarating, and for the most part crisply written new book, Nina Jablonski . . . urges us to consider our skin as we have never, even in our pubertal angst, pored over it before. . . . May you read it with pleasure and by the sweat of your brow.”—Natalie Angier American Scholar
“Skin is the largest and most visible organ in the human body. Its biological richness and complexity are exceeded only by the brain and immune system. And now at last it has the book it deserves. . . . [Jablonski’s] fascinating book is as all-encompassing as skin itself.”—Financial Times
“A marvelous exploration of the organ we ignore until an abnormality prompts us to seek professional help. The chapters skillfully lead from one topic to the next and cover the history and physiology of skin, sweating, color, touch, tattoos and painting, and more. Jablonski's writing is clear; her enthusiasm for the topic, evident.”—Library Journal
“Biology is a historical science. Ask a 'why?' question about biology, as Nina Jablonski keeps doing in her book Skin, and you invite an evolutionary answer. She also tells us everything we might want to know about skin; perhaps more than some people want to know.”—Nature
“A rich mix of just about everything you would want to know about the necessary and complex covering of your body. Nina Jablonski writes not only as an anthropologist but also as an ethologist, comparative biologist, and psychologist. She weaves a vivid, compelling history, which at times is intertwined with social discourse (skin color and racism) and advice (skin and sun protection).”—New England Journal Of Medicine
“Jablonski nimbly interprets scientific data for a lay audience, and her geeky love for her discipline is often infectious.”—Publishers Weekly
“Jablonski has an endearing sense of humor that keeps the narrative nimble as it delivers surprisingly dense lessons on anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and sociology. . . . A fascinating read.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“An interesting look at something we tend to take for granted.”—Santa Cruz Sentinel
“Skin offers an accessible and well-referenced overview of many aspects of the biology of human skin. . . . Beauty may only be skin deep, but Jablonski shows us that the skin, be it thin or thick, is the true mirror of the soul.”—Science (AAAS)
"When you meet people, whether they're fully clothed on the street or scantily clad on the beach, the first part of their body that you see, smell, and perhaps touch is the skin. Skin is our largest and most visible organ, our personal poster board for decoration and advertisement. Nina Jablonski gives us the best and most fascinating account of everything that you might want to know about the packaging of our anatomy."—Jared Diamond, author of Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel

"This fascinating book traces the long evolutionary history of our integument, revealing a whole host of essential skin functions that most of us have probably never even thought of."—Ian Tattersall, author of The Fossil Trail

"An intriguing study of our body's most visible organ. I wish I'd written it myself."—Spencer Wells, author of The Journey of Man

"A fascinating and comprehensive account of the biological and cultural aspects of human skin."—John Relethford, SUNY at Oneonta