A redhead rarely goes unnoticed in a crowded room. From Judas Iscariot to Botticelli's Venus to Julianne Moore, redheads have been worshipped, idealized, fetishized, feared, and condemned. In The Roots of Desire, Marion Roach takes a fascinating look at the science behind hair color and the roles redheads have played throughout history.
The discoveries are as intriguing as they are unexpected. In Greek mythology, redheads become vampires after they die; women with red hair were burned as witches during the Inquisition; in Hollywood, female redheads are considered sexy while male redheads are a hard sell; and in the nineteenth century, redheads were believed to be the strongest scented of all women, smelling of amber and violets. Redheads have been stereotyped, marginalized, sought after, and made to function as everything from a political statement to a symbol of human carnality. A redhead herself, Marion Roach brings candor and brilliant insight to the complicated and enticing history of redheads.