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A History in Three Metamorphoses Weaving Together Biography, Global History and Science Writing

About the Author

AARATHI PRASAD is a writer, broadcaster, and researcher. She is the author of In the Bonesetter's Waiting Room: Travels Through Indian Medicine (Profile, 2016) which was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and won the Popular Medicine Award at the BMA Awards 2017; and Like A Virgin: How Science is Redesigning the Rules of Sex (Oneworld, 2012), shortlisted for the Salon Prize and translated into Italian, Bulgarian and Dutch. 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 works as a Senior Research Fellow at the UCL Institute for Global Health, focussed on sustainability and urban health in Kenya, and as part of an international team excavating and analysing ancient DNA from funerary sites in Spain, Rome, and Pompeii.


‘A tour of the anecdotal, the industrial and the gruesome . . . Readers coming to this globetrotting and species-leaping volume expecting vignette after genteel vignette of 5,000-odd years of Chinese silk manufacture are in for a nasty shock. Here be spiders, and not just spiders, but metre-long Mediterranean clams, and countless moth species spinning their silks everywhere from Singapore to Suriname’ Financial Times ‘The global scope of Prasad’s book draws out its most compelling material links’ Daily Telegraph, four-star review ‘Prasad is such an infectious and knowledgeable enthusiast that it is hard not to be swept away by her enticing facts’ Literary Review 'Both scientific and poetic, this remarkable book shows how the great tides of history are shaped through human encounters with the intricate variety of the non-human world'
David Wengrow, co-author of the international bestseller The Dawn of Everything ‘Fascinating . . . Prasad cross-crosses centuries and cultures to tell of the intrepid explorers, botanists, scientists and entrepreneurs who were determined to unravel the secrets of silk production. Her book captures their persistence and her own in the search for the little-told but revelatory stories of human curiosity and ingenuity’
Clare Hunter, author of Threads of Life 'A wonder of a narrative. Like the transformation of caterpillar to moth that she explores so beautifully, this is a network of threads that spin around the world and tell a story of science, of history, of humanity itself' Kate Strasdin author of The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes ‘An incredible read. Deeply researched, dazzling’ Seirian Sumner, author of Endless Forms ‘Prasad weaves her strands of science, history and culture to create a rich narrative tapestry that's as sumptuous as the material itself. Full of fascinating detail’
Gaia Vince, author of Nomad Century

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