Breasts by Florence Williams
A Natural and Unnatural History

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Ms. Williams's writing, droll and crisp, makes quick work of such knotty concepts as the anatomy of breasts, the endocrinology of puberty, the chemistry of human milk, gene-environment interactions and the etiology of cancers.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

A 2012 New York Times Notable Book

A 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Award Winner in the Science & Technology category



An engaging narrative about an incredible, life-giving organ and its imperiled modern fate.


Did you know that breast milk contains substances similar to cannabis? Or that it’s sold on the Internet for 262 times the price of oil? Feted and fetishized, the breast is an evolutionary masterpiece. But in the modern world, the breast is changing. Breasts are getting bigger, arriving earlier, and attracting newfangled chemicals. Increasingly, the odds are stacked against us in the struggle with breast cancer, even among men. What makes breasts so mercurial—and so vulnerable?


In this informative and highly entertaining account, intrepid science reporter Florence Williams sets out to uncover the latest scientific findings from the fields of anthropology, biology, and medicine. Her investigation follows the life cycle of the breast from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, taking her from a plastic surgeon’s office where she learns about the importance of cup size in Texas to the laboratory where she discovers the presence of environmental toxins in her own breast milk. The result is a fascinating exploration of where breasts came from, where they have ended up, and what we can do to save them.

 

About Florence Williams

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Florence Williams is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, and her articles and essays have been widely anthologized. She lives in Washington, DC.
 
Published May 7, 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company. 351 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Breasts
All: 3 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by M. G. Lord on Sep 14 2012

My one quibble with Williams is her dismissal of Ruth Handler, who invented a mastectomy prosthesis in the 1970s...I wonder if Williams’s distaste for another Handler invention, the Barbie doll, impaired her objectivity.

Read Full Review of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatu... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Zoe Williams on Jul 13 2012

If anything lets this diverting book down, it's the relentlessly conversational tone, which strikes a note somewhere between a local news report...and Woman's Own solidarity-schmaltz...

Read Full Review of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatu... | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Jennie Erin Smith on May 11 2012

Ms. Williams's writing, droll and crisp, makes quick work of such knotty concepts as the anatomy of breasts, the endocrinology of puberty, the chemistry of human milk, gene-environment interactions and the etiology of cancers.

Read Full Review of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatu... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for Breasts
74%

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