Silk: A World History

Silk: A World History

by Aarathi Prasad
Silk: A World History

Silk: A World History

by Aarathi Prasad


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The first book to comprehensively explore the science, culture and history of silk, from its origins to its modern-day impact. This is a deep dive into a fascinating subject, told in poetic prose.

A Next Big Idea Book Club Must-Read for April

“Aarathi Prasad’s Silk: A World History is a love song to this protean material. . . . Beautiful [and] fascinating.” —Wall Street Journal

"Aarathi Prasad spins a masterpiece of a story, as luminous, supple, and surprising as the wondrous threads themselves." —Sy Montgomery, bestselling author of The Soul of an Octopus and Of Time and Turtles

Throughout history, across cultures and countries, silk has reigned as the undeniable queen of fabrics, yet its origins and evolution remain a mystery. In a gorgeous and sweeping narrative, Silk weaves together its intricate story and the indelible mark it has left on humanity.

Some four thousand years ago, the cultivation of silkworms began, the practice spreading to the far reaches of civilization. With it came a growing obsession with unlocking silk’s secrets to understand how the strongest biological material ever known could be harnessed.

Explorers and scientists, including groundbreaking women who pushed the boundaries of societal expectations, dedicated—even sacrificed—their lives to investigate the anatomy of silk-producing animals. They endured unbelievable hardships to discover and collect new specimens, leading them to the moths of China, Indonesia, and India; the spiders of Argentina, Paraguay, and Madagascar; and the mollusks of the Mediterranean.

Rich with the complex connections between human and nonhuman worlds, Silk not only peers into the past but also reveals the fiber’s impact today, inspiring new technologies across the fashion, military, and medical fields, and shows its untapped potential to pioneer a more sustainable future.

The culmination of author and biologist Aarathi Prasad’s own lifelong passion and grounded in years of research and writing, Silk is an intoxicating read that provides an essential illumination of nature’s most glamourous thread.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780063160255
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 04/30/2024
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 32,980
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Aarathi Prasad is a writer, broadcaster, and researcher. Born in London to an Indian mother who wore only silk saris and a Caribbean father who loved the natural world, Aarathi was educated in the West Indies and the UK. After completing a PhD in molecular genetics from Imperial College London, she later trained in bioarchaeology. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London’s Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, and part of an international team excavating and analyzing ancient DNA from funerary sites in Spain, Rome, and Pompeii. She is the author of two books published in the UK, In the Bonesetter's Waiting Room: Travels Through Indian Medicine and Like a Virgin: How Science Is Redesigning the Rules of Sex.

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