The Body: A Guide for Occupants

Doubleday. Oct. 2019. 464p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385539302. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385539319. SCI
Best known for his travel and history of science books, Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling; A Short History of Nearly Everything) combines both genres in this journey through the human body. Traveling from head to toe, he describes the anatomical machinery of the body; explains the workings of hormones, digestion, and sleep; and examines topics ranging from the vital role of our microbiome to the current antibiotic crisis. He dispels a number of persistent myths (we should drink eight glasses of water a day) and reports that the flu may be our greatest potential health risk. While applauding the advances made by medical science in the two past centuries, Bryson is quick to point out that the body remains “a universe of mystery.” He keeps the science lively by interweaving facts and statistics with anecdotes, interviews with scientists and doctors, and his trademark dry humor.
VERDICT Bryson has shaped an enormous amount of anatomy and physiology into an informative and entertaining biostory. Recommended for Bryson fans and nonspecialists interested in human health and biology.

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