Most people don't give a second thought to the stuff on their head, but in Hair, Kurt Stenn - one of the world's foremost hair follicle experts - takes readers on a global journey through history, from fur merchant associations and sheep farms to medical clinics and patient support groups, to show the remarkable impact hair has had on human life.
From a completely bald beauty queen with alopecia to the famed hair-hang circus act, Stenn weaves the history of hair through a variety of captivating examples, with sources varying from renaissance merchants’ diaries to interviews with wig makers, modern barbers, and more.
In addition to exploring the biological basis and the evolutionary history of hair, the fibre is put into context: hair in history (as tied to textile mills and merchant associations), hair as a construct for cultural and self-identity, hair in the arts (as the material for artist's brushes and musical instruments), hair as commodity (used for everything from the inner lining of tennis balls to an absorbent to clean up oil spills), and hair as evidence in criminology.
“Kurt Stenn, a scientist who has studied hair for the past three decades, proves in this lively new book that even the lowliest whisker merits attention. He’s a clear and enthusiastic explainer of follicles and shafts, the genes and growth patterns behind our fur, and all the strange things that can go wrong.” - Boston Globe
“Stenn manages to convey a sense of wonder for a seemingly mundane material so tough, so strong and so versatile that it can be used for virtually anything.” - Science News