The Complete Human Body: The Definitive Visual Guide

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We inhabit it, we are it, and we are surrounded by 6.8 billion examples of it on the planet – the human body. Some parts of it are still mysteries to science and much is a mystery to the average person on the street. But we've come a long way from the sketches and diagrams drawn by the first anatomists in Ancient Greece.

Making full use of new medical procedures and imaging techniques, The Complete Human Body is the definitive guide to the development, form, function, and disorders of the human body, illustrated with unprecedented clarity by new computer-generated artworks and the latest medical and microscopic imaging. Exploring the body's form and function in greater depth than any other popular reference, from muscle structure and activity to motor pathways within the brain, The Complete Human Body will have great appeal to students and a broad range of healthcare professionals, as well as families. Includes an interactive DVD and website!

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  • The Complete Human Body
    The Complete Human Body  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
American Journal of Nursing's Book of the Year in their Consumer Health category.
From the Publisher

American Journal of Nursing's Book of the Year in their Consumer Health category.

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Incorporating hundreds of stunning images and a clearly written text, Roberts's hefty volume begins with an overview of the body covering such topics as human evolution, the human genetic formula, the cell, and body composition. It then moves on to systems, devoting most of its pages to an atlas of human anatomy. Starting from the head and neck and ending at the lower leg and foot, this section illustrates seven regions of the body, primarily employing computer-generated illustrations, but also incorporating cutaway diagrams and clear photos and microscopic and x-ray images. For each designated section of the body, double-page renderings of the skeletal, muscular, nervous, cardiovascular, and lymphatic and immune systems are presented, each clearly introduced and extensively labeled. The extraordinary detail of these pictures will give students an excellent understanding of the body's structure and organization, depicting, layer by layer, the organs that are normally "packed closely together and nestled into cavities, with nerves and vessels twisting around...." Other sections focus on "How the Body Works," "Life Cycle," and "Diseases and Disorders," offering the same graphic detail. There's more text in these chapters, which devote two pages each to a multitude of topics ("Nerve Cells," "Taste and Smell," "Blood Cells"); the images are smaller, but well chosen and more numerous. The DVD offers a selection of pictures from the book. While not all libraries may need such extensive mapping of the human body—Steve Parker's The Human Body (DK, 2007) may suffice for many—there is nothing that rivals Roberts's singular volume.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756667337
  • Publisher: DK
  • Publication date: 8/30/2010
  • Edition description: + DVD
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 162,787
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Editor-in-chief Dr. Alice Roberts is a doctor, anatomist, osteoarchaeologist, and anthropologist. She teaches clinical anatomy, embryology, and physical anthropology at Bristol University and has hosted a number of television programs, including "Dr Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young", "Coast", and, most recently, "The Incredible Human Journey." She is the author of Don't Die Young: An Anatomist's Guide to Your Organs and Health and The Incredible Human Journey.
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Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Dr. Alice Roberts, Author of The Complete Human Body
What was your inspiration for creating The Complete Human Body?

As an anatomist, this was a dream of a book to work on. I was keen to show the structure of the living body in all its amazing intricacy and beauty, and then build on this foundation to explore the function and dysfunction of the body. I’m very pleased that we have been able to include all this – structure, function and problems – within one book. You might learn these things while studying human biology or medicine but what I really wanted to do was to make the subject of the human body accessible to a much wider readership.

In the foreword to the book, you mention the importance of breaking apart the human body to understand it. Can you elaborate on this?

Anatomy means ‘to cut up’. That’s not surprising, as the way that doctors and scientists have historically been able to learn the structure of the human body was by doing exactly that – cutting it up. Dissection is also a great way to learn anatomy – so I think that it still has an important role to play in the medical school of the 21st century. However, and just for the last hundred years or so, we have also been able to look inside the body without cutting it up – virtually dissecting it using X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and ultrasound. We now have the amazing ability to see living anatomy. And that’s how we have depicted the anatomy in this book, so what we’re seeing is not the anatomy of a cadaver, but the structure of a living (though virtual) man and woman.

Your PhD is in palaeopathology. Can you explain what this is and how it relates to the study of the human body?

Palaeopathology is the study of disease in ancient human remains. My PhD took me away from the application of pathology to living patients, to study disease in long-dead subjects, as I looked at skeletons excavated from cemeteries by archaeologists. I was interested to find that a very common shoulder problem – ‘rotator cuff disease’ - also afflicted people in past centuries. When I looked at other apes (I say ‘other’ because I very much see humans as a species of ape!), I found they also suffered from the problem, but to a lesser extent. I think the preponderance of the condition in our shoulders may – like osteoarthritis elsewhere - be linked to a chronic under-use of these joints through their full range of movement. I think it’s just another example of the old ‘use it or lose it’ principle. Particularly in privileged societies in developed countries, we really need to make sure we are keeping physically active if we want to protect our bodies from disease and keep them performing at their best.

What was the most challenging aspect of putting together this book?

Working on a book while pregnant with my first baby was both a challenge and a joy! I did have about a month off around the time of birth. At that point, the book was really coming together. I had finished writing the anatomy section, and most of the other authors had finished their sections. As consultant editor, I had to review all the pages I had helped to plan the previous year. It was lovely – very exciting - to see it all coming together. After I had my baby, it was time for the final checks before the book went off to be printed… and it’s just amazing to see it out in print and in the book shops now.

How does being an artist influence your outlook on human anatomy?

Art and anatomy have a long and intimate combined history. Anatomy helps artists to depict the body, while art helps anatomists understand, depict and teach the structure of the body. I’ve always enjoyed drawing, and I illustrated many a student handbook while teaching medical undergraduates. I think having a visual memory, and being able to conjure up the anatomy of the human body in my mind’s eye, is essential as an anatomist. I see the body as a complicated 3-D map – and what I wanted to do in this book was to show the layers of the map and make it accessible. I suppose it’s like Google Earth – you can turn different layers on and off – looking at roads, buildings, and places of interest. In The Complete Human Body you can see those different layers of the topography of the body – bones and muscles, nerves, vessels, organs – and get a real understanding of the layout.

It was great to work with such an accomplished team of artists. I would produce pencil sketches of what I wanted each double-page spread to look like – send it off to them, and within just a few days or weeks, the finished artwork would arrive in my email inbox. I think that, together, we have managed to produce something which is informative, accurate and beautiful – just what anatomical illustration should be.

The Complete Human Body is filled with unique photographs, images, scans and diagrams. Did you have a hand in selecting the artwork?

Absolutely! I had an idea of what I wanted for most of the anatomy section in particular, and I also wanted to see particular images in the book that I knew – from my teaching experience – would have particular explanatory power.

Will you share with us a fun or interesting fact about our bodies that few people know?

The outer ear used to be a gill slit in a fish (evolutionarily speaking).

What other projects are you currently working on?

Another - top secret - book for DK. I’ve just finished filming for another series of the popular BBC2 series Coast. And I’m about to start work on another - top secret - series for BBC2 (but I can at least tell you it has something to do with the human body). Oh – and the most important project of all – my 7 month old baby daughter!

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 13, 2010

    Stunning visualizations of the human body - highly recommended

    I've looked at a number of anatomy books over the years, and have always found it very challenging to visualize how the muscles, tendons, and bones all fit together in space. As a serious Pilates student, I want to be able to understand anatomy to deepen my practice. This book completely exceeded my expectations. I can finally visualize how my body is put together! The images are crisp, clear, detailed, and aesthetically pleasing. There are countless large format double-page spreads showing breathtaking detailed areas of the body. For each area of the body, multiple images are provided showing how everything layers and interconnects including bones, muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. In addition to anatomy, the book covers how each aspect of the body works including: - Skin, hair and nails - Musculoskeletal system - Nervous system - Respiratory system - Cardiovascular system - Lymphatic and immune system - Digestive system - Urinary system - Reproductive system - Endocrine system In addition it covers the human lifecycle, and diseases and disorders. It is very inspiring to see just what a miracle the human body is. I would recommend this book to students and teachers, as well as anyone interested to know more about the body.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Glad to see that DK finally realized to have one complete book and DVD on all of this.

    Still wished that they had waited a few more years of waiting to have this. Instead of doing two separate (Body 2007 and Brain 2009) books and DVDs on all of this. As for me went ahead and got the complete book because its way easier to keep track and etc along those. As for the separate books I donated them to one of the local hospitals in my area medical library.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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