A History of the World Through Body Parts

The Stories Behind the Organs, Appendages, Digits, and the Like Attached to (or Detached from) Famous Bodies

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Pub Date 24 May 2022 | Archive Date 23 May 2022

Talking about this book? Use #AHistoryoftheWorldThroughBodyParts #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Description

A grab bag of historic spleens, chins, and more, this is your ultimate literary dissection of body parts throughout history!

From famous craniums to prominent breasts, ancient spleens and bound feet, this book will bring history to life in a whole new way. With their inimitable wit and probing intelligence, authors Kathy and Ross Petras look at the role the human body has played throughout history as each individual part becomes a jumping-off point for a wider look at the times. In far-ranging, quirky-yet-interrelated stories, learn about Charles II of Spain's jaw and the repercussions of inbreeding, what Anne Boleyn's heart says about the Crusades and the trend of dispersed burials, and what can be learned about the Aztecs through Moctezuma's pierced lip. A History of the World Through Body Parts is packed with fascinating little-known historical facts and anecdotes that will entertain, enlighten, and delight even the most well-read history buff.

BESTSELLING AUTHORS: Kathy and Ross Petras have authored the New York Times bestseller You're Saying It Wrong and the hit calendar The 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said, now in its 24th year with over 4.8 million copies sold!

ENGAGING CONTENT: Packed with rich material told with a lively and humorous voice, take a trip through history in this unique, exciting way.

QUIRKY HISTORY FANS REJOICE!: For fans of The Disappearing Spoon, Wicked Plants, The Violinist's Thumb, The Sawbones Book and Strange Histories!

A grab bag of historic spleens, chins, and more, this is your ultimate literary dissection of body parts throughout history!

From famous craniums to prominent breasts, ancient spleens and bound...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781797202846
PRICE $22.95 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 27 members


Featured Reviews

My head is slumped down upset at my, too quick to get to this, book love issue with this. I love love love “Chronicle Books” and I love this type of book so when I saw it in the “read now” section I got super excited. Due to not having a place to live I’ve turned to using my kindle for all books………….except for books like this and another similar, which I have from NetGalley, I highly prefer print because books like this are too awesome not to have physically in hand and for displaying where anyone will see it as a conversation starter.

Well, head lowered, wearing frown, kicking myself and bummed……..I clicked “read now”, went to click on “send to kindle” aaaaand there wasn’t a send to kindle option. In my excitement I failed to look. To add to my homelessness, my vision is super super poor from a head injury so reading on anything except an ereader like my paperwhite, Oasis or a print book, hurts too much. I’m so sorry to Chronicle Books and to NetGalley for not seeing this before I clicked “read now”. I even tried to download to get a little look inside, but all that downloaded was a black screen with the ISBN and the file size. Nothing else anywhere to be found. 😩 I even went to Amazon devices and content hoping the doc might have made its way there………nope 😑

I want to thank both Chronicle Books and NetGalley for this opportunity. All I can add…….again…….is 😩 Since I can’t post this without a rating I’m going to go with the five star for the fantastic cover and description alone. Cover love and description for those who love random and not so random cool and unusual facts and trivia. Thank you again for the op. My mistake

Was this review helpful?

I found this to be a fascinating read. I however, think the topics are a bit to adult for my high school students. I could maybe pick and choose a few of the stories in my anatomy class. The book itself is well organized and so interesting.

Was this review helpful?

This book is fascinating! Although I may never use that word again now that I know its origin. The book includes 27 relatively brief, chronological snippets of history, each having to do with a different body part of a historical figure. The conversational and somewhat acerbic writing style made it easy and fun to read, and I learned a lot about history that I wasn't familiar with. I wish there had been images included to visualize what was being discussed. The content is not really appropriate for younger audiences (high school or earlier) given some of the topics and the graphic descriptions. The fact that it's broken up into bite-size pieces made it easy to pick up and put down during brief free moments. Highly recommend to those with an interest in history and looking for intriguing stories to share with others. I need to check out more from this sibling writing team.

I was provided a free advance reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Super interesting book about different bodies around the world throughout history. The book also explains how different cultural practices shape our bodies. This book had a bunch of different mini stories which made it an easy and enjoyable read.

Was this review helpful?

An easy but informative read full of historical trivia from different points in time throughout the world. The type design is especially well-executed.

Was this review helpful?

*Provided a free copy in exchange for an honest review.*

The History of the World Through Body Parts is exactly what its title says it is. It is a general history of body parts (types and parts from specific people) through human history. It covers everything from prehistoric cave paintings of hands and Hatshepsut's beard to Harriet Tubman's brain and Lenin's skin. In several instances it contends that certain people's body parts may have even altered the course of history.

I am so happy I got a chance to read this book. This is without a doubt one of my new favorite non-fiction titles. It manages to pack a lot of history into the compact chapters for each part that they mention. This is well written and well researched (in my opinion). I absolutely flew through this and I loved every minute of the reading experience. The authors make each topic genuinely interesting and informative. I don't know if they authors have any other books but I would 100% read from them again. Highly recommend for all non-fiction fans and all fans of history.

Was this review helpful?

I've been having a really hard time downloading this title. It's been refusing to go on any device I've got Adobe Digital Editions on with the exception of a really old tablet. Unfortunately, the tablet runs poorly, so I haven't really been able to dive into this book like I've wanted to. That being said, what I've been able to see so far is absolutely fascinating. It takes on human history though the body parts of some of its most famous inhabitants--George Washington's teeth, Tamerlane's leg, Harriet Tubman's brain, for example. It's a premise unlike any I've come across (history is my former profession) and I'm completely intrigued. Clear, engaging writing as well. So though I haven't had an optimal reading experience with this, I'd recommend this title and I'm looking forward to the release date so I can read it in full.

Was this review helpful?

4.5 rounded up
Fun and informative book. Well researched. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book

Was this review helpful?

Kathryn Petra and brother Ross Petra may be well known for their “word nerd” books, but that is about to change. Their newest offering presents a chronological arrangement of famous people from around the world, and the influence specific parts of their body had on their fame. Whether it be the sphere of religion, politics, government, medicine, art, or writing, the historical influence of one's nose, jaw, and spine are represented along with the penis, breast, and bladder. Cleopatra's nose was beautiful to Julius Caesar, the Hapsburg nose was the harbinger of the demise of the Hapsburgs in Spain, and the bladder was/is a concern for both knights in armor and astronauts. Like now, writers and artists used their talents to improve the appearance or public image of the powers that be, and thus gain favor. The tone of the book is conversational, the contents are informative, the table of contents clearly states the subject of the chapter, and the resources are arranged by chapter. Great choice for those who appreciate a bit of anatomy with their history, and I highly recommend to all who are looking for a new slant on world history. Thank you to Chronicle Books and netgalley for the opportunity to read this selection.

Was this review helpful?

A History of the World Through Body Parts was a fun dive into history through the lesser used scope of human bodies themselves. From craniums to bound feet, this book explored how historic events were (or could have been) influenced by human bodies and what genetics and lives do to them. This was a fun, quick but informative read with facts and anecdotes to keep the reader engaged. Amazing book!

Was this review helpful?

A really interesting dip into a side of history not typically explored. I enjoyed this book and found it, overall, quite engaging. My interest waned a bit at times but, overall, very well done and a joy to read.

Was this review helpful?

I thought this would be a more detailed look at the body parts and history so I was slightly disappointed at how simple and short the chapters were. Still, that doesn't mean I didn't end up enjoying the book and it does make for an easy read. The text was very conversational and it made me go "oh, I never thought of that" (especially the last chapter)

Was this review helpful?

This book was great. What an interesting topic. The book was laid out really well and flowed nicely.

Was this review helpful?

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would! I learned lots about important people and events in history, things I’d never heard of in 20 years of life and 15 of schooling. The formatting is also really beautiful, I’m sure this makes a lovely hardback. My only complaint is that some references (selfies, COVID being referenced in the current, Snapchat, etc) may age the book poorly.

Was this review helpful?

A quick, enjoyable read that delivers interesting tidbits bits of historical trivia through the lens of different body parts throughout history. I found the “head to toes” format a fun addition to the book as well!

Was this review helpful?

My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Chronicle Books for a copy of this new medical based history of the world.

Learning can be fun, but many people feel that fun is just not learning, that history is a series of facts dates and this person did this and this person did that and here is why. I have heard many things about Martin Luther, but not that he probably came up with many of his ideas for his theses in the bathroom due to stomach problems. Or that the jaw of Charles II jutted out so much from inbreeding that it might have helped end the Hapsburg line in Spain. The book A History of the World Through Body Parts: The Stories Behind the Organs, Appendages, Digits, and the Like Attached to (or Detached from) Famous Bodies by Kathryn Petras and Ross Petras teaches alot about history in a interesting new way.

The book is broken down into roughly 27 chapters each focusing on a human body part and chronologically progresses through history starting from our earliest ancestors using their hand in art to the modern day. The chapters are not long, dealing with a famous person or an event with a body part, and a subsection detailing more of a historical perspective to the chapter. Readers learn about the importance of not only health, but appearances and belief behind certain rituals involving the body and hot that affected the history of the world, and also that small segment that people lived in.

The chapters follow a theme, and are all well written and easy to read and follow. Humor is tough and to make something not only entertaining and enlightening is difficult but the Petras have not problem with this at all. No cheap jokes, which would have been easy, but writing that makes the reader think quite abit about events, while smiling and flipping pages.

Recommended for people who like their history a little different, or with that Uncle John books were a little longer, and consistent in their humor. A great gift for Father's Day, but also a great gift for people who like both medical and world history and never thought of the two subjects together.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this book. It was informative, interesting and a quick read. The stories were interesting and touched the topics that one wouldn’t think about

Was this review helpful?

I was intrigued by the title of this book and surprised when I found that I really enjoyed the authors’ journey through the history of the world one body part at a time. Each chapter is devoted to one body part and can stand alone; no need to read the chapters in order (but if you are like me, you want to read them in order).

Each history of the body part is thoroughly investigated with plenty of sidenotes. The writing is very readable and sometimes a bit snarky, which is totally in keeping with the subject matter at hand.

This book would appeal to the casual reader who is nominally interested in history. It will definitely appeal to the science or medical nerds out there who enjoy their history with a bit of snark.

[Thank you to NetGalley and the author for the advanced ebook copy in exchange for my honest and objective opinion which I have given here.]

Was this review helpful?

This book was exciting, informative, and just so much fun to read!

Starting with the title, the concept just pulls you in, leaving you excited to learn exactly what each body part was famous for, and precisely 𝘸𝘩𝘰 it was attached to! I have heard about ideas such as dark tourism before, specifically with people visiting Galileo’s middle finger in museums, and it growing to be a symbol. It was so exciting to learn about more interesting stories like that, in the immersive format that the authors crafted.

Thanks so much to Kathy and Ross Petras, as well as NetGalley for the chance to read the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

Some well-selected, interesting stories here! Some I'd heard of before, but in more detail here (I hadn't heard about the Typhoid Mary gallbladder idea!), so even old familiar ones had new insights. An interesting melange of time periods and cultures, truly fascinating to see how body parts act as symbols and catalysts and so many diverse functions other than their biological purposes. The writing is very casual and informal, but compelling. Often morbid and grotesque, sometimes a bit too lurid, but sometimes inspiring or thought-provoking. The references are well laid-out and seem appropriate.

Was this review helpful?

In this amusing book each chapter begins with a particular part on a particular person, for example, Martin Luther’s bowels or George Washington’s teeth. The authors discuss the target body part in historical context and in terms of wider importance, then also consider that same body part in other famous persons and people in general. The discussions range from ancient history to modern times. The tone is light—conversational with a sprinkling of academic style and snarky asides—yet there is real information here. Readers who want to know even more about a topic and consult the resources listed at the end of the book. I’m usually focused only on content, but I must say that the visuals in this book are very attractive. The mix of fonts and retro drawings work well with the tone of the text. One of my favorites is the alternative, visualized table of contents, which is a diagram of the human body with body parts labeled by the chapter number in which they are discussed. The chapter title pages, which include old-fashioned alternative chapter titles, are also really nice.
 All in all, this book is a keeper. I learned a lot and smiled a lot and am ready to reread because there is is so much of interest here. And who could resist Queen Hatshepsut’s beard?
 This review is based on an electronic ARC from Netgalley.

Was this review helpful?

This was such a fun bit of quirky history. I'm torn between loving how it was such a quick read and wishing there was more. I certainly went on a quest to deep dive into some of the stories. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes history and would like a great survey of world history that can give you lots of ideas for further reading.

Was this review helpful?

This book is a fascinating exploration of history through a lens that both adults and older youth will find relatable and fascinating: the human body. The field of heritage interpretation teaches that a key to conveying ideas to audiences is to help them make connections between tangible objects and intangible concepts, and this book does that well. Each chapter focuses on a different part of the body - typically belonging to a famous historical figure - and uses it as a window into exploring a specific set of historical and cultural experiences.

While this is a non-fiction history book, this is less a reference text and more of an introduction to a range of topics which that will serve to encourage curious readers to seek more resources to learn more about the people and places which make up its subjects. This will be a great addition to any library collection which seeks to stimulate interest about history among its patrons; I believe the attention-grabbing title and informative, entertaining and approachable writing style will lead to high engagement and circulation.

Was this review helpful?

I received an advance copy of this through netgalley! There were no pictures, although seemingly places for pictures? Which did have me wonder if this copy was merely missing them.

Overall I found the style of the book to be quite captivating. It’s easy to get lost in a book and be unable to stop reading when each story is just a few pages long. “Just one more”, repeat x 10. The author doesn’t shy away from grim stories—in a book about body parts, it would be hard to. From the unethical source of Washington’s teeth to the brutal childhood of Tubman there’s certainly nothing off limits. Repeatedly the theme: one’s body, and all it’s possible flaws or abnormalities, make one into who they are, for better or worse. History would certainly be very different if the featured people lacked the highlighted traits.

One thing I found unappealing were the full-page blue asides. Each was tangentially related to the current story, but interjected even mid-sentence, making it somewhat distracting. Additionally, the book really didn’t have an overarching narrative to bring it all together, leaving the individual stories feeling disconnected. I feel like there was a missed opportunity to tie it together — just like an actual body is more than just individual parts, so too could this book, and the history of body parts, have been. I still strongly recommend this book, but between this and the interjecting asides, 4/5.

Was this review helpful?

I am a sucker for all things anatomy and physiology, the weirder the better. This book did not disappoint. It gives specific points throughout history and the famous body parts that played a role. Quite a delight to read.

Was this review helpful?

From hand Prince in a cave, Cleopatra‘s big nose Wilhelms little arm and even a few private parts. I thought The stories were entertaining and even informative. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wish it would’ve been longer. It was 200+ pages but went by so fast anyone who loves history is going to love this book. I certainly did and highly recommend it. I was given this book by net Gally and the publisher and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Please forgive any grammar or punctuation errors I’m blind and dictate my review but all opinions are definitely my own.

Was this review helpful?

This was so fun! Short chapters on how different parts of the body affected history. Some stories I was somewhat familiar with, but most I'd never heard of. I read lots of history and this book approached it from a unique point of view.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: