Monday, 22 July 2019

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bones by Brian Switek (Non-Fiction)

Title: The Secret Life of Bones
Author: Brian Switek
Publisher: Prelude Books
Publication Date: 8 August2019
Pages:
224
Format:
eBook - EPUB
Genre:
Non-Fiction
Source:
ARC via NetGalley

 


Bone is a marvel, an adaptable and resilient building material developed over 500 million years of evolutionary history. It has manifested itself in wings, sails, horns, armour, and an even greater array of appendages since the time of its origin. In dinosaur fossils, skeletons are biological time capsules that tell us of lives we'll never see in the flesh. Inherited from a common fishy ancestor, it is the stuff that binds all of us vertebrates together into one great family. Swim, slither, stomp, fly, dig, run - all are expressions of what bones make possible. But that's hardly all.

In The Secret Life of Bones, Brian Switek frames the history of our species through the importance of bone from instruments and jewellery, to objects of worship and conquest from the origins of religion through the genesis of science and up through this very day. While bone itself can reveal our individual stories, the truth very much depends on who's telling it. Our skeletons are as embedded in our culture as they are in our bodies.

Switek, an enthusiastic osteological raconteur, cuts through biology, history, and culture to understand the meaning of what's inside us and what our bones tell us about who we are, where we came from and the legacies we leave behind.


The Secret Life of Bones was a generally entertaining read. There was a little 'hard science' in terms of paleontology and anatomy, but not so much it became oppressive for me as a novice. I particularly enjoyed the section looking at the recovery and identification of Richard III's remains, and several other facts were new to me and therefore interesting and surprising. Overall this was a fascinating book that covered a wide range of fields and areas of interest, all connected to bone.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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