392 pages, b/w illustrations
The presenter of BBC's The Incredible Human Journey gives us a new and highly accessible look at our own bodies, allowing us to understand how we develop as an embryo, from a single egg into a complex body, and how our embryos contain echoes of our evolutionary past.
Bringing together the latest scientific discoveries, Professor Alice Roberts illustrates that evolution has made something which is far from perfect. Our bodies are a quirky mix of new and old, with strokes of genius alongside glitches and imperfections which are all inherited from distant ancestors. Our development and evolutionary past explains why, as embryos, we have what look like gills, and as adults we suffer from back pain.
This is a tale of discovery, not only exploring why and how we have developed as we have, but also looking at the history of our anatomical understanding. It combines the remarkable skills and qualifications Alice Roberts has as a doctor, anatomist, osteoarchaeologist and writer. Above all, she has a rare ability to make science accessible, relevant and interesting to mainstream audiences and readers.
"A masterful account of why our bodies are the way they are [...] Roberts skilfully and knowledgeably weaves embryology, genetics, anatomy, evolution and zoology to tell the incredible story of the human body [...] It is in comparative anatomy that this book really shines [...] Roberts's anatomical expertise is seductive [...] Roberts's lightness of touch is joyous, and celebratory"
– Adam Rutherford, Observer
"Roberts's engagingly personal style connects you to your ancestors, to your own personal beginnings as a single cell and, in a most attractive way, to herself as an author of great charm. From your brain to your fingertips, you emerge from her book entertained and with a deeper understanding of yourself"
– Richard Dawkins
"A brilliant account of how a single cell transforms itself into a living, breathing, thinking person. The book exudes physicality, it is like having an intellectual massage of every muscle in your body – afterwards you are keenly aware of your body and feel like a different person"
– Mark Miodownik, author of The Genius of Invention
"Witty, personal and above all informed by passion and deep knowledge"
– Adam Rutherford
"The biggest gap in biology is that between DNA [...] and living creatures [...] Alice Roberts has set out to find it. With wit and enthusiasm, she succeeds"
– Steve Jones, Geneticist and author of The Single Helix
"Her guided tour of the human body takes us on a fascinating journey of self-discovery"
– Desmond Morris
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