Butts: A Backstory

Avid Reader. Nov. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781982135485. $28.99. SOC SCI
In this riveting and fun book, Radke (contributing editor and reporter at WNYC’s Radiolab) traces the history and significance of the cultural obsession with butts and considers why the butt has become a unique, and often stigmatized, symbol beyond its function as part of the human body. The book covers the butt’s social evolution over the last two centuries, largely focusing on women and Western popular culture and seamlessly balancing many intersections of history, science, and culture that relate to butts, including racism and cultural appropriation, body image, sexuality, and celebrity representation. Radke thoughtfully, and without judgment, addresses the complexities and contradictions that this body part evokes and delves into some surprising topics that may spark further curiosity in readers. Her captivating writing and witty approach to a taboo topic will appeal to a variety of nonfiction readers, particularly those interested in cultural history and gender studies. After reading Radke’s book, audiences looking for another pop-culture deep dive might enjoy Kaitlyn Tiffany’s Everything I Need I Get From You: How Fangirls Created the Internet as We Know It.
VERDICT A fun, fascinating, and surprisingly empowering exploration of the history and cultural significance of the butt.
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