352 pages, 12 illustrations
An engaging narrative about an incredible, life-giving organ and its imperiled modern fate.
Did you know that breast milk contains substances similar to cannabis? Or that it's sold on the Internet for 262 times the price of oil? Feted and fetishized, the breast is an evolutionary masterpiece. But in the modern world, the breast is changing. Breasts are getting bigger, arriving earlier, and attracting newfangled chemicals. Increasingly, the odds are stacked against us in the struggle with breast cancer, even among men. What makes breasts so mercurial – and so vulnerable?
In this informative and highly entertaining account, intrepid science reporter Florence Williams sets out to uncover the latest scientific findings from the fields of anthropology, biology, and medicine. Her investigation follows the life cycle of the breast from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, taking her from a plastic surgeon's office where she learns about the importance of cup size in Texas to the laboratory where she discovers the presence of environmental toxins in her own breast milk. The result is a fascinating exploration of where breasts came from, where they have ended up, and what we can do to save them.
"Florence William's double-D talents as a reporter and writer lift this book high above the genre and separate it from the ranks of ordinary science writing. Breasts is illuminating, surprising, clever, important. Williams is an author to savor and look forward to."
– Mary Roach
"[...] an engagingly written book that grabs your attention from the outset."
– BBC Focus
"[...] Florence Williams's tome [...] is a fascinating and occasionally frightening exploration of these most fetishised of body parts."
– Evening Standard
"You certainly won't regret reading Breasts."
– The Guardian
"Florence Williams's excellent book shines light on a much-misunderstood part of the body [...] Breasts is a seriously good book. It's well written, scientifically literate, engrossing and occasionally terrifying"
– New Statesman
"[...] a witty, well-researched and eminently readable book."
– Literary Review
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Florence Williams is a journalist and contributing editor to Outside magazine. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and National Geographic among others. Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2012 and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science and Technology. Williams lives in Washington, DC.