In this lively, unexpected look at the hearts of animals – from fish to bats to humans – American Museum of Natural History zoologist Bill Schutt tells an incredible story of evolution and scientific progress.
We join Schutt on a tour from the origins of circulation, still evident in microorganisms today, to the tiny hardworking pumps of worms, to the golf-cart-size hearts of blue whales. We visit beaches where horseshoe crabs are being harvested for their blood, which has properties that can protect humans from deadly illnesses. We learn that when temperatures plummet, some frog hearts can freeze solid for weeks, resuming their beat only after a spring thaw. And we journey with Schutt through human history, too, as philosophers and scientists hypothesize, often wrongly, about what makes our ticker tick. Schutt traces humanity's cardiac fascination from the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, who believed that the heart contains the soul, all the way up to modern-day laboratories, where scientists use animal hearts and even plants as the basis for many of today's cutting-edge therapies.
Written with verve and authority, weaving evolutionary perspectives with cultural history, Pump shows us this mysterious organ in a completely new light.
Bill Schutt is a vertebrate zoologist and author of six nonfiction and fiction books, including Pump: A Natural History of the Heart and the New York Times Editor's Choice, Eat Me: A Natural and Unnatural History of Cannibalism. Recently retired from his post as professor of biology at LIU Post, he is a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, where he has studied bats all over the world. His research has been featured in Natural History magazine as well as in the New York Times, Newsday, the Economist, and Discover.
"Fascinating [...] Surprising entertainment, combining deep learning with dad jokes [...] [Schutt] is a natural teacher with an easy way with metaphor."
– The Wall Street Journal
"[A] show-stopping exploration of cardiac biology [...] Informative, playful, and impossible to put down."
– Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This brisk and engaging history of hearts of all forms and sizes packs a punch."
– Foreword Reviews, starred review
"Pump is a natural history of the heart and the science is fascinating. Schutt is a zoologist, and entertainingly details the evolution of the heart. I especially loved how this book so successfully tells the human story, of how and why we came to regard the heart as something more than a blood-pumping organ. There are cool animals and plenty of song lyrics, tales of medical misadventure and triumph, and even time with one gigantic whale heart. As with all Schutt's non-fiction, there's a mix of both humor and the macabre. It is science writing at its finest."
– Cool Green Science (blog of The Nature Conservancy)
"An easy-to-read and fascinating look into the complexity and wonder of the heart in its many forms."
"Schutt covers a lot of ground here and discusses serious science, but his witty style keeps it readable [...] An engaging, often droll look at the engine of life and the long history of efforts to understand it."
– Library Journal
"Wonderful. Pump is informative and entertaining and the science is impeccable. I highly recommend it."
– Joseph C. Piscatella, author of Don't Eat Your Heart Out
"Pump is an absolutely fascinating journey through the human heart by way of our animal kin. It's so packed with cool details, you'll want to read it twice."
– Jennifer S. Holland, author of the New York Times bestselling Unlikely Friendships series
"Pump takes readers on a fantastic and fascinating voyage of all matters of the heart."
– Cat Warren, author of What the Dog Knows
"As Bill Schutt delightfully shows us in his new book, hearts have gripping stories to tell about a huge range of topics, from the history of life on our planet to the foibles of humankind."
– Ian Tattersall, coauthor of The Accidental Homo sapiens
"Narrating stories from across the animal kingdom, Schutt brings his usual intelligence and humor to this well-curated natural history of the heart and circulatory system. Pump is not your cardiologist's book on the heart. A rich and entertaining read that will leave you feeling smarter."
– Darrin Lunde, author of The Naturalist
"A fine overview of an essential organ."
– Kirkus Reviews