In this natural and cultural history of bone, Brian Switek explains where our skeletons came from, what they do inside us, and what others can learn about us when these artifacts of mineral and protein are all we've left behind.
There is much that startles in Skeleton Keys, Brian Switek’s cultural history of bone, not least that bone is startling at all ... Switek is an affable guide, and affability is required when the depth and breadth of his subject is so vast, when many characters are fossils or skeletons and most field trips are to yet another museum. His tone can veer from chatty...to overly academic, and there is enough repetition that one could wish for a sharper editorial scalpel ... But now, when it comes to these 'endless forms most beautiful and wonderful,' to borrow Darwin’s words, I can see them better thanks to Switek’s keys.
Now comes a book about osteology that nearly promises to tell the reader almost all about bones except how to pick them ... Switek offers a compendium of organic chemistry, medical history, social science and institutional ethics ... It is a handsome book, the bi-colored dust jacket skeleton notwithstanding ... Mr. Switek’s core subject, bones, offers departure points for numerous tangents, including his disquisition on the current hot topic of the ownership of cultural remains, including bodies and bones.
Bones as active tissues, not fixed structures, is just one of the fascinating topics that writer Brian Switek explores in Skeleton Keys ... The author packs a bevy of...facts into illustrative tales of famed skeletons ... [a] wonderfully engaging read.