The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything

Randi Hutter Epstein (Author)


A guided tour through the strange science of hormones and the age-old quest to control them.

Metabolism, behavior, sleep, mood swings, the immune system, fighting, fleeing, puberty, and sex: these are just a few of the things our bodies control with hormones. Armed with a healthy dose of wit and curiosity, medical journalist Randi Hutter Epstein takes us on a journey through the unusual history of these potent chemicals from a basement filled with jarred nineteenth-century brains to a twenty-first-century hormone clinic in Los Angeles.

Brimming with fascinating anecdotes, illuminating new medical research, and humorous details, Aroused introduces the leading scientists who made life-changing discoveries about the hormone imbalances that ail us, as well as the charlatans who used those discoveries to peddle false remedies. Epstein exposes the humanity at the heart of hormone science with her rich cast of characters, including a 1920s doctor promoting vasectomies as a way to boost libido, a female medical student who discovered a pregnancy hormone in the 1940s, and a mother who collected pituitaries, a brain gland, from cadavers as a source of growth hormone to treat her son. Along the way, Epstein explores the functions of hormones such as leptin, oxytocin, estrogen, and testosterone, demystifying the science of endocrinology.

A fascinating look at the history and science of some of medicine’s most important discoveries, Aroused reveals the shocking history of hormones through the back rooms, basements, and labs where endocrinology began.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • June 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-23960-7
  • 5.8 × 8.6 in / 336 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Lucid and entertaining. . . . [Epstein's] beguiling prose makes for a lively and accessible introduction to hormones and the important work they do in the lives of humans.” — Publishers Weekly

“An engaging book of medical history that teaches readers about important aspects of physiology.” — Library Journal

“A sweeping, glorious story of hormones, threaded through with sex, suffering, neurology, biology, medicine and self-discovery, Randi Hutter Epstein’s book manages to excite the imagination as well as calm it. The story is grippingly told, and Epstein manages to bring a whole system of science alive to her reading public.” — Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Gene: An Intimate History

“Hormones today can seem a bit like angels and demons in earlier times: invisible agents mysteriously responsible for everything in our lives. In her funny, eye-opening book, Randi Hutter Epstein demystifies these molecules, while taking away none of their amazing power.” — Carl Zimmer, author of She Has Her Mother's Laugh and Parasite Rex

“Hunger. Lust. Maternal love. It’s hard to believe our biggest human dramas are written by tiny molecules discovered only a century ago. Randi Hutter Epstein spins a fine medical history of the hormones coursing through our blood, the hucksters who hawk them, and scientific visionaries who changed the way we think about who we are.” — Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix

Aroused, Randi Hutter Epstein’s witty, riveting, and untrammeled romp through the social history of hormones, engages you with one astonishing story after another…An irresistible narrative tapestry tracing the shimmering threads of hormones as they run through our bodies and lives.” — Harriet Washington, author of Medical Apartheid

“A rollicking history certain to get your intellectual and physiologic juices flowing. Adrenaline-tinged tales and hot flashes of history—just what the doctor ordered.” — Lisa Sanders, New York Times Magazine Diagnosis columnist

“We tend to associate hormones with puberty, childbearing, and menopause but, as Randi Hutter Epstein points out in this important, informative and immensely enjoyable book, they’re actually involved in every aspect of being human. An enchanting storyteller, Epstein draws on examples from medical history to today’s news in exploring the amazing chemicals that affect how we eat, sleep, grow, look, hate, love, and think.” — Suzanne Koven, physician and writer in residence at Massachusetts General Hospital

“Epstein’s intelligence and wit sparkle through these well-researched and enlightening tales of hucksters and heroes, freak shows and murders, hot flashes and thousands of pickled pituitary glands.” — Anna Reisman, director of Yale University's Program for Humanities in Medicine

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