In the tradition of Sapiens, bestselling author Susan Wise Bauer’s BONES, BLOOD, BREATH is a gripping and thought-provoking take on human history told through humanity’s evolving perceptions of illness
BONES, BLOOD, BREATH: How Sickness Shapes Our World
by Susan Wise Bauer
St. Martin’s Press, TBD
Manuscript available Fall 2021
In illness, Bauer provides a surprising new lens through which to consider all of human history—she argues that bodily sickness and our conception of it has shaped our culture, our philosophies, and our religions, and has directly and indirectly affected how we view others, how we view ourselves, and how we fashion our world. She argues that sickness is the great mirror that reflects back our most urgent and eternal questions: Why does calamity descend without warning? How can we explain it? And how do we fight back? Told in a propulsive narrative style that brings sweeping history to life through intimate individual stories—the feverish Mesopotamian sufferer; the plague victim who dies alone, the last in his village; the seventeenth-century teenager racked by smallpox; the Congolese grandmother watching her family die of Ebola—Bauer takes readers on a journey from humans’ earliest days when sickness was an unsolvable mystery, evidence that humans were powerless to the unseen forces of gods, to more modern times and the birth of germ theory, when secularism grew alongside our fear of contamination. A multidisciplinary human history like no other, BONES, BLOOD, BREATH is a big think book that tells a large-scale, vivid, chronological story, stretching around the world from ancient times until the present—it will change the way we understand who we are.
Susan Wise Bauer is a writer, historian, and educator. Known for combining meticulous research with gripping detail to offer her readers sweeping and engaging big-picture narratives, Susan is also an in-demand speaker and expert. She is the author of eighteen books, including the educational classic The Well-Trained Mind (with Jessie Wise), now in its fourth edition with over 250,000 copies sold. Her four-volume educational series The Story of the World has sold over 1.5 million copies since 2001. Bauer has a bachelor’s degree in English language and linguistics with a minor in Greek; a Master of Divinity in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature; an M.A. in English language and literature; and a Ph.D. in American Studies, with a concentration in the history of American religion. Susan writes, reads, lectures and consults, and runs a family farm and bed-and-breakfast. With its broad, multi-disciplinary approach, and propulsive story-driven writing, BLOOD, BONES, BREATH is poised to be her breakout title.