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Skin: A Natural History (Paperback)
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.
About the Author
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.
“ 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.”
“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.”
“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
“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. . . . a fascinating, thought-provoking book.”
— Financial Times
"Skin is, as Jablonsky ably illustrates, a marvel of engineering: tough, stretchable, impermeable, pliable, a bacterial and UV shield and sensitive to heat, cold, deformation and the slightest of touches. The book explores the social nooks and biological crannies of this complex set of tissues, from color to artificial skin and the role of sweat in our evolutionary history."
— New Scientist
“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
"This amply illustrated rhapsody to the body's largest and most visible organ showcases skin's versatility, importance in human biology and uniqueness: human skin is hairless and sweaty, has evolved in a spectrum of colors and is a billboard for self-expression. . . . Jablonski nimbly interprets scientific data for a lay audience, and her geeky love for her discipline is often infectious"
— Publishers Weekly
“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.”
— American Scholar
STARRED REVIEW: "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
“Jablonski engages the reader with her clear, informed style that makes Skin a very readable book.”
— American Biology Teacher
"Anthropologist Jablonski delves into the natural history of skin in animals and people and explains its structure and function, its evolution as a nearly hairless body covering in people, and the utility of its pigment melanin. She also examines the role of skin in activities as varied as finding food and bonding socially. Finally, she looks at the prospects for artificial skin."
— Science News