Size Matters: How Height Affects the Health, Happiness, and Success of Boys—and the Men They Become

Stephen S. Hall, Author . Houghton Mifflin $26 (388p) ISBN 978-0-618-47040-2

Bond had always mistrusted short men," Ian Fleming wrote; "Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was short men who created all the trouble in the world." That may sound extreme, but science reporter Hall (Merchants of Immorality: Chasing the Dream of Human Life Extension) marshals a broad, deep range of information in this fascinating study to show us how much size matters in the way society conceptualizes masculinity and how badly we treat those who do not "measure up." Hall includes data on developmental fetal growth; the anthropological studies of Franz Boas and G. Stanley Hall; and the science of the human growth hormone. His research turns up some gems—such as that contemporary ideals of the manly body, as embodied by toys such as G.I. Joe, are far bulkier then those promoted by the famous Charles Atlas bodybuilding ads in 1950s comics. Carefully examining sociological studies on bullying, and the politically conservative backlash against those studies, Hall explains how a childhood "culture of cruelty" is reflected in the broader national political culture. His interpretations of complicated science are readily accessible, and his journalistic style will suit both popular and academic readers. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 07/17/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 405 pages - 978-0-547-56138-7
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