Bones Inside and out

Roy A. Meals

Book - 2020

"A lively, illustrated exploration of the 500-million-year history of bone, a touchstone for understanding vertebrate life and human culture. Bone is ubiquitous and versatile, and uniquely repairs itself without scarring. However, we rarely see bone in its living state--and even then, mostly in two-tone images that only hint at its marvels. After it serves and protects vertebrate lives, bone reveals itself in surprising ways, sometimes hundreds of millions of years later. In Bones, orthoped...ic surgeon Roy Meals explores and extols this amazing material that both supports and records vertebrate life. He demystifies the biological makeup of bones; how they grow, break, and heal; and how medical innovations--from the first X-rays to advanced surgical techniques--enhance our lives. With enthusiasm and humor, Meals also reveals the enduring presence of bone outside the body--as fossils, ossuaries, tools, musical instruments--and celebrates allusions to bone in history, religion, and idiom. Approachable and entertaining, Bones richly illuminates our bodies' essential framework"--

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Subjects
Published
New York, NY : W. W. Norton & Company, Inc [2020]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
x, 294 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages [262]-283) and index.
ISBN
9781324005322
1324005327
Main Author
Roy A. Meals (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Accounting for roughly 15 percent of a human body's mass, our 206 bones range from tiny (the three ossicles of the middle ear) to flat (the sternum) to lengthy (the formidable femur). Orthopedic surgeon Meals lauds bone as the ultimate building material: Manufactured on-site, it is also lightweight, durable, and responsive to changing conditions. It's also self-mending and a repository of vital calcium. He explores the biochemistry, anatomy, growth, repair, and mechanics of bone but also its place in history, commerce, religion, and culture. Seemingly anything connected with the osseous tissue finds a place in his book. Readers encounter the practice of skull shaping, motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel and his reported 433 incurred fractures, the wonders of our opposable thumbs, funerary practices, fossils, bone-tipped hunting weapons and tools, two nineteenth-century paleontologists' rivalry (the Bone Wars), hip replacement, and bonemeal fertilizer. One chapter speculates on the future of bones—limb regeneration, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, tissue engineering. An educational, enjoyable, and sometimes quite surprising look at living bone and what becomes of it after death. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Veteran orthopedic surgeon and UCLA professor Meals presents a brief but illuminating overview of all matters related to bones, whether human, animal, bird, or even dinosaur in origin. The first half of the book covers the biological and medical aspects of bones and skeletons, including chemical structure and the myriad ways bones are affected by disease and injury. Next, Meals traces the development of scientific knowledge about bones, including the history of orthopedic treatment, advances in imaging technology, and pioneers in the field. Later chapters detail the symbolism of bones in human culture; for example, investigating the significance of bones in religious culture, from saints' relics to burial rites. Also explored is the importance of bone as a material for fashioning both homemade tools and commercial products like buttons, beads, kitchen utensils, weapons, and musical instruments. A plethora of fascinating illustrations and photographs will keep readers engaged, while those seeking more detailed coverage of the topic will appreciate the comprehensive bibliography. VERDICT This appealing and kaleidoscopic narrative on bone topics, ranging from x-ray technology to the Paris catacombs, will appeal to readers interested in medicine and medical history, anthropology, archaeology, and material culture. Enjoyable and recommended.—Kelsy Peterson, Forest Hill Coll., Melbourne, Australia Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A lively, illustrated exploration of the 500-million-year history of bone, a touchstone for understanding vertebrate life and human culture. Bone is ubiquitous and versatile, and uniquely repairs itself without scarring. However, we rarely see bone in its living state-and even then, mostly in two-tone images that only hint at its marvels. After it serves and protects vertebrate lives, bone reveals itself in surprising ways, sometimes hundreds of millions of years later. In Bones, orthopedic surgeon Roy Meals explores and extols this amazing material that both supports and records vertebrate life. He demystifies the biological makeup of bones; how they grow, break, and heal; and how medical innovations-from the first X-rays to advanced surgical techniques-enhance our lives. With enthusiasm and humor, Meals also reveals the enduring presence of bone outside the body-as fossils, ossuaries, tools, musical instruments-and celebrates allusions to bone in history, religion, and idiom. Approachable and entertaining, Bones richly illuminates our bodies' essential framework"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A 500-million-year history of bone as a focus for understanding vertebrate life and human culture examines the biological makeup of bones, how medical innovations have enhanced human knowledge and what can be learned from bones even millions of years later. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

BonesInside the body, bone proves itself the world’s best building material. Meals examines the biological makeup of bones; demystifies how they grow, break, and heal; and compares the particulars of human bone to variations throughout the animal kingdom. In engaging and clear prose, he debunks familiar myths—humans don’t have exactly 206 bones—and illustrates common bone diseases, like osteoporosis and arthritis, and their treatments. Along the way, he highlights the medical innovations—from the first X-rays to advanced operative techniques—that enhance our lives and introduces the giants of orthopedic surgery who developed them.After it has supported vertebrate life, bone reveals itself in surprising ways—sometimes hundreds of millions of years later. With enthusiasm and humor, Meals investigates the diverse roles bone has played in human culture throughout history. He highlights allusions to bone in religion and literature, from Adam’s rib to Hamlet’s skull, and uncovers its enduring presence as fossils, technological tools, and musical instruments ranging from the Tibetan thighbone kangling horn to everyday drumsticks. From the dawn of civilization through to the present day, humankind has repurposed bone to serve and protect, and even to teach, amuse, and inspire.Bones

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A lively, illustrated exploration of the 500-million-year history of bone, a touchstone for understanding vertebrate life and human culture.