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Scott StosselAs a man of a mere 5 feet 5 and three-quarters inches himself, Hall is on something of a quest, seeking not just to understand the science and culture of stature but also to come to terms with what the cartoonist Garry Trudeau has called his “inner shrimp” — that distinctive “I’m smaller than the rest of the world so I hope I don’t get beaten up” outlook that is imprinted at an early age and never dispelled, no matter what our final adult heights. Mixing traditional science reporting with personal anecdote, Hall ranges widely across popular culture and the scientific literature to explore such issues as what the average height of a population can reveal about culture and society (Why are the Dutch so tall? And why are Americans becoming relatively shorter?), and how the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of human growth hormone as a “treatment” for undersize children in 2003 changed the politics and science of height.
— The New York Times