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Red: A History of the Redhead is the first audiobook to chronicle red hair and redheadedness from prehistory to present day. As both intrepid cultural detective and compelling storyteller, Jacky Colliss Harvey weaves a fascinating history beginning with the moment the redheaded gene made its way out of Africa with the early human diaspora. She goes on to trace red hair in the ancient world; the intolerance manifested against it as an indicator of Jewishness across medieval Europe; red hair as the height of fashion in Renaissance England; the redheaded "stunner" in Pre-Raphaelite art and the paintings of the Impressionists; and into the modern age, from its symbolism and adoration in popular culture to "gingerism", perhaps the last unacknowledged from of discrimination.
More than an audiobook for redheads, Red is both an exploration of red hair as "other" and a celebration of every aspect of its unique social and scientific heritage at a time when it has never before been so frequently in the news or played such a prominent role in our visual culture.
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By Troy on 06-09-15
Pushing Past Stereotypes
This book is a fascinating look into the history, mythology, and socio-religious aspects of what it means to be a redhead, backed by science and the popular culture (art, stories, film, etc.) of different eras. The author's writing style makes it even more so, instantly engaging the audience in the topic. On the whole, it's a brilliant topic designed to push past the stereotypes and understand how and why they might have came about in the first place.
My only gripe comes early on when Cleopatra is mentioned. This seems to be a touchy subject for many people, as though seemingly every racial and/or regional group out there wants to claim the Queen for their own. Interestingly, the opposite occurs here. The author is quick to dismiss the idea that Cleopatra was very likely a redhead because of her Egyptian origins. It's as though because Cleopatra lives up to the hurtful stereotypes the author is trying to undermine. The defensive attitude is therefore understandable given the author's quest here. However, historical fact is just that and cannot be dismissed due to inconvenience. Cleopatra was a Ptolemy, the product of an incestuous family line from Macedonia. She had not one single drop of Egyptian blood in her, thus negating the author's rather short argument. It doesn't prove she was a redhead, but it doesn't dismiss it either, especially given the science of just how rare the gene is and why it expresses itself. If anything, the case is stronger than ever despite the author's attempt to gloss it over.
Save for this one tiny exception, the whole of this book is meticulously researched and thoughtfully executed. The author narrates her own work, which very rarely works out, but in this case kudos for her clarity and enthusiasm.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Kimberly on 06-19-15
All Things Ginger
Thank goodness this was written by a redhead. As a redhead I agree the stereotypes exists (ginerism is for real).
Jacky's information is educational and insightful. Must reading for us gingers for truth seekers.
Her voice is delightful and pleasant. I hope she performs more audiobooks.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful