Adam's Navel

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

3.53 (204 ratings by Goodreads)
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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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Product details

  • Paperback | 342 pages
  • 127 x 195.6 x 20.3mm | 204.12g
  • Penguin Books
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0142004642
  • 9780142004647
  • 1,070,445

Review quote

"This body--and bawdy--Baedeker should inspire readers to do some navel-gazing of their own." --Entertainment Weekly"A truly eclectic mix of cultural, scientific and literary perspectives on the bits and pieces that make up a human body." --Minneapolis Star Tribune
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About Michael Sims

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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Table of contents

Adam's NavelIntroduction: The Form Complete
Neanderthals Yawned · The Mystery of the Visible
Part One: Headquarters
1. The Not-Quite-Naked Ape
The Hair of the Prophet · The Mark of the Beast · Burn It or Bury It · Samson's Hair · A Metaphysical Operation · The Etiquette of Deciduousness
2. Face-to-Face
The Family Face · The Face on Mars
3. The Vigilant Eye
Flesh Becomes a Mirror · Supercilious · The Blink of an Eye · The Dreaming Eye · Close Your Eyes
4. Houdini's Wiggle
The Ear of a Thousand Li · Darwin's Points and Houdini's Wiggle · Nor the Ear Filled with Hearing
5. A Ridiculous Organ
6. The Archaic Smile
Louis Armstrong's Lips · The Badge of a Harlot · A Kiss Is Just a Kiss · The Necessary and Ambivalent Tongue · Don't Read My Lips
Part Two: The Weight of the World
7. Arms and the Man
8. The Monkey's Paw
A Free Hand · Finger Math · Rule of Thumb · Our Natal Autograph · Tobin's Palm · On the Other Hand · Playing Chess with Death
9. Madonna del Latte
Breasts and "the Breast" · Via Lactia · The She-Devil from Hooter City · Topless · The Pillow of Paradise Versus the Millstone of History
10. Adam's Navel
Untying the Knot · A Brief History of Navel-Gazing
Part Three: A Leg to Stand on
11. Privy Members
The Commotion · Vagina Dialogues · Leonardo's Intelligent Organ · Boswell's Johnson · The Senator's Body Hair
12. Our Steed the Leg
Two Legs Good and Bad · The Scarecrow Learns to Dance · The Goddess with Beautiful Buttocks · Toes with Special Properties · Pedestrian Crossing
Selected Bibliography and Further Reading
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Rating details

204 ratings
3.53 out of 5 stars
5 17% (34)
4 34% (70)
3 37% (75)
2 11% (22)
1 1% (3)
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