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Red is a brilliantly told captivating history of red hair throughout the ages A book that breaks new ground dispels myths and reinforces the special nature of being a redhead with a look at multiple disciplines including science religion politics feminism and sexuality literature and art With an obsessive fascination that is as contagious as it is compelling author Jacky Colliss Harvey herself a redhead begins her exploration of red hair in prehistory and traces the redhead gene as it made its way out of Africa with the early human diaspora to its emergence under Northern skies She goes on to explore red hair in the ancient world; the prejudice manifested against red hair across medieval Europe; red hair during the Renaissance as both an indicator of Jewishness during the Inuisition and the height of fashion in Protestant England under the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I; the modern age of art and literature and the first positive symbols of red hair in children's characters; modern medicine and science and the genetic and chemical decoding of red hair; and finally red hair in contemporary culture from advertising and exploitation to gingerism and the new movement against bullying


10 thoughts on “Red

  1. says:

    I learned a lot about red hair and the history of redheads Amongst other things I learned the Lucille Ball was not a natural redhead Gasp And I disagree with Harvey; artificial redheads do not count as redheads If the person is coloring his or her hair to retain the red color of youth that counts but it has to be truly in your genes I say


  2. says:

    Red is about exploring the history of red hair I myself am a redhead so I was excited when I heard this was coming out and the first problem that I had with the book was the fact that while the synopsis implies that most of it is research oriented with some art history the book is about 90% art history and critiue and about 10% history and sociology oriented Second the author is very pretentious throughout the book and it even borderlines on condescending She didn't seem to understand the fact that this makes the book very uncomfortable to readThird much of the topics discussed were out of order There were many passages that I found in one chapter that should've been in an earlier chapterAnd fourth the thing that I had the biggest problem with gingerism is the same as racism First of all racism is based on power power that white people have over people of color And since the majority of redheads are in fact white this means that most redheads have power over people of color even if they have red hair Also redheads have NEVER experienced the same kind of discrimination that people of color have We've never been denied health care a mortgage or been shot by police simply for our hair color And to say that gingerism euals racism downplays actual racism because redheads never experienced any of those thingsIf you want to say that redheads often do become targeted for bullying and in many cases assault or that many even commit suicide because of bullying then that's fine because it is true in many cases But to compare it to racism is such a huge stretch that it's pretty insulting to everyone and just goes to show how incredibly privileged and misinformed the white author of this book is and how she clearly doesn't understand the first thing about racism and white privilege


  3. says:

    I think that Red A History may be aptly titled Red A Memoir The author included some scientific and anthropological evidence but none was backed up and most was anecdotal Don't get me wrong as a redhead I enjoyed hearing her take However I wouldn't consider it an authoritative source of our shared mutated genetic heritage The author included some statistics that I'd like to say are true but my only proof is personal experience Supposedly redheads are sensitive to cool temperatures I agree cold hurts; it's not just uncomfortable it's actually painful I need tropical weatherI enjoyed her feminist diatribes about red hair in females being considered everything from precocious Anne of Green Gables to overtly sexual GildaRita Hayworth to positively evil Lilith Although all of it was interesting and sometimes amusing I feel that it's lack of proofs made it unsubstantiated and not to be taken seriously for research I hope my fellow gingers enjoy the read but don't commence with too serious an expectation


  4. says:

    What an odd book which wasn't at all what I expected from the title or the cover This book is a total mishmash both of substance and style There's some but precious little actual history here What little is there is interesting if a bit under sourced The rest of the book is assembled pell mell of scientific and pseudoscientific speculation art history and art analysis gossipy celebrity anecdotes travelogue and screeds alternately angry and amused about the author's personal experiences as a redhead The art history parts which are substantial are probably the best because that's where Harvey seems most sure footed The last chapter is the worst which reads like an in flight magazine article about a trip to a redhead festival Honestly what this most reads like is a vanity project by someone with a personal ax to grind and little editorial oversight Which is fine I guess? Not what I expected or wanted though I'm rating this generously on the parts that I liked even though they comprise a minority of the text


  5. says:

    I picked up this book purely on a whim  I have a few red haired people in my life so I thought it would be an interesting read  And a couple of years ago before making “ THE BIG DECISION” I read a book about going gray  If nothing else I do want to be an eual opportunity reader “The study of hair I found out does not take you to the superficial edge of our society the place where everything silly and insubstantial must dwell  It takes you instead to the center of things”  Grant McCracken “Big Hair” 1995


  6. says:

    Perhaps if I had PhDs in Ancient History Art History and Vocabulary I would not have found this book uite so boring I had hoped for a cleaner and simpler sort of chronological story of red heads This was not that It was a confusing collection circumstantial evidence and much speculation I was disappointed


  7. says:

    We can blame the ancient Greeks Romans and medieval Europe for the negative stereotypes for redheads but it's interesting to see how the perception has evolved into modern times This book is a mix of history science and personal experiences; a great resource from a redheaded author


  8. says:

    Regrettably not as awesome as I wanted it to be Some interesting tidbits though And the endpapers are LOVELY


  9. says:

    A fascinating overview of redheads in history art and scientific implications of the genetics of hair colorThe original genetic mutation for red hair seems to have come from somewhere between modern Russia and China but was first spread by the Thracians and later the Vikings Ashkenazi Jews also carried the trait as if they didn't have it hard enough in medieval times The fair skin and ability to make vitamin D gives a slight advantage in northern climes Red haired women were likely to survive childbirth The most interesting part of the book was red heads in art Judas was often portrayed as red headed as was Cain and Shylock For women it was mainly Mary Magdalene until the Renaissance Titian painted so many red heads his name became a synonym for it And of course the pre Raphaelites loved painting redheadsScience is just starting to recognize genetic differences I was not aware we may need higher anesthesia levels but I had heard and agree it is true for me they have higher pain tolerance for the skin think of pulling a piece of toast from the toaster A false idea making the rounds is that the trait is disappearing It has maintained a steady state of 1 3% in the populationEven today there are a lot of stereotypes associated with red hair Many are negative especially in Britain where the trait is associated with being Irish or Scottish Calling someone Ginger is a mild insult there


  10. says:

    Harvey's background is in art history so the majority of the book covers the redheads who were models and the symbolism of different objects going back to 330 BC Some of the paintings are reprinted in the book which is a great help I'm not going to stop reading to goggle paintings If you read this on an e reader can you just click on the footnote to see it? That would be amazing I really think Harvey could have made that aspect a book on its own Some other parts about the DNA were pretty dry and I think there could have been much on current redheads and psycho babble on the affects on society For example did Nicole Kidman act differently when she was a redhead? What's the possibility of future redheaded princesses from Prince Harry? How has Ron Howard changed the stereotype of redheaded men? I feel a little let down that a history of the redhead is only 218 pages I never thought Tintin was a redhead always though he was blond image error