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Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood Paperback – February 14, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345456882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345456885
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hemophobes beware: there are five quarts of blood in the human body, and Hayes (Sleep Demons: An Insomniac's Memoir) pours all of them into this book. A gay man living in San Francisco with an HIV-positive partner, Hayes uses his own encounters with blood's ability to save and destroy lives as a launching point for anecdotes in the larger story of blood. His personal history runs like a river through this book, picking up the flotsam and jetsam of blood lore. He launches into an account of the discovery of blood's components and its function in the body, and meanders through cultural perceptions of blood, from the sacred (the Eucharist) to the profane (Dracula). Hayes ranges far beyond red and white blood cells, platelets and plasma, taking readers inside a modern blood bank and to the bedside of a woman with hemophilia; his keen perceptions show how the ancient view of blood as the essence of a person's soul still pervades our modern vocabulary and views on the vital fluid. His sometimes irreverent commentary on misconceptions about blood doesn't shy away from the gruesome, particularly a cringe-inducing description of early blood transfusion techniques. With his strong writing and a unique approach, Hayes satisfyingly addresses this life force. B&w illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Playful and powerful . . .profoundly moving . . . Hayes writes with so much panache that reading this book is thrilling.”
–The Boston Globe

"Bill Hayes is on his way to becoming one of those rare authors who can tackle just about any subject in book form, and make you glad he did. . . . [Five Quarts is] a breezy ride of a book that . . . equips even a casual reader with the knowledge to gain new insights into life.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

“Hayes’s fascination with scientific discovery is matched by his unerring sense for the right phrase, the right anecdote, to draw others into his delight and wonder.”
–The Advocate

“The perfect gift for the phlebotomist in your life.”
–Newsweek (Top Pick of the Week)

More About the Author

"One of those rare authors who can tackle just about any subject in book form, and make you glad he did." -- San Francisco Chronicle.

www.bill-hayes.com

Bill Hayes is the author of three books--and is at work on a fourth--each of which deals with facets of the human body; this is the thread that runs through all of his writing. He is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, and his work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, Salon, and The Threepenny Review, among other publications. He lives in New York.

In his first book, "Sleep Demons: An Insomniac's Memoir" (2001), Hayes explored sleep and sleeplessness from the perspective of a lifelong insomniac. Publisher's Weekly called Sleep Demons, "An intelligent, beautifully written book that variously reads like a journey of scientific discovery, a personal memoir, and a literary episode of 'Ripley's Believe It or Not.'"

In "Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood" (2004), he wove together memoir and medical history in an examination of the five quarts of vital fluid that run through each of us. The Boston Globe called Five Quarts "playful and powerful...profoundly moving. Hayes writes with so much panache that reading this book is thrilling."

"The Anatomist," his most recent book (2008), is a narrative nonfiction account of the story behind the 19th-century classic revered by doctors and artists alike, Gray's Anatomy. "Hayes searches for the elusive man behind the great reference work and offers his own scalpel's-eye tour of the human body," noted The New York Times.

Hayes is now at work on a book in which he is exploring a largely overlooked chapter in the history of medicine: the development of exercise--a form of physical activity distinct from sport, play, or athletics. Titled "Sweat: A History of Exercise," the book will be published by Bloomsbury USA/UK.

In "Sweat," Hayes traces the origins of exercise in Western and Eastern traditions, and chronicles how exercise has evolved over time, both influenced by and exerting influence on changes in the larger culture. Whereas in "The Anatomist," he dealt with the literal dissection of the human body, in "Sweat" he is dissecting the dynamics of human movement. Plato, Galen, and the "Einstein of human perspiration," Japanese scientist Yas Kuno, among many others, appear in the book, but chief among the historical figures is Girolamo Mercuriale, a Renaissance-era physician and author who aimed to singlehandedly revive the ancient "art of exercising" through his book De arte Gymnastica (1569).

Hayes is also working on a collection of his essays and vignettes on life in New York, many of which have appeared in The New York Times. The book, titled "Insomniac City," will be published by Bloomsbury UK/USA.

New York Times essay, brief excerpt from "Sweat: A History of Exercise":
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/platos-body-and-mine.html?smid=pl-share

New York Times essay, brief excerpt from "Insomniac City":
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/11/insomniac-city/?smid=pl-share



www.bill-hayes.com



Customer Reviews

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This is a very well written book.
Leigh A. Peterson
I loved Sleep Demons, which is a similar book in its mix of topics, and it seems like he would have much more to say about his life.
Suzanne Amara
Blood gives Hayes the vehicle to describe this beautifully.
Truro Potter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on May 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood by Bill Hayes started because the author cut his finger. What followed is fascinating nonfiction that explores blood through history, literature, science and mythology.

I must admit that when I first saw the book I wasn't particularly interested. I couldn't imagine the subject of blood to be anything but dull and even repulsive. Finally, curiosity got the best of me, and I picked it up and began reading. And I continued reading.

I couldn't believe how much there is to know about that vital fluid that runs through every human body. If you're interested in trivia, or find unique things that you've never considered fascinating before, this book is for you. I will never view my wedding ring or barbershop poles in the same way again.

Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood proves that even a seemingly obscure topic can be enthralling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Author Hayes mixes science, philosophy and a lot of personal intimacy in this interesting book on blood. A strange subject (though not the strangest around--a recent bestseller is about cadavers.) We have five quarts of the red stuff--hence the title.

The book starts with Bill getting a cut. But then we go on a journey about hemophila and history (the royal house of Great Britain) and we learn about bloodletting, blood banks, and ultimately the AIDS epidemic.

While I would prefer more science and less personal information in a treatise on a scientific subject, that's just me (I studied biology and immunology for quite some years.) But for a non-science-steeped reader, this is a fascinating look at the stuff of life. Recommended, though not for the squeamish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Truro Potter on February 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bill Hayes has written another winner. He seamlessly weaves together a history of blood with personal reflections from his own life. Hayes explores and explains how man's understanding of blood developed not only in science but also the meaning of blood through time in our cultural, social and religious life. I found this aspect of the book educational and fascinating.

At the same time, Hayes interweaves reflections and experiences from his own childhood and adult life. These reflections are laugh out-loud funny, heartbreakingly sad and profoundly intimate. In particular he focuses on his experience as a gay man in the age of AIDS and his long term relationship with a partner with AIDS. Through the lens of blood, this is another perspective on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our lives; one that I believe has never really been explored before. He also describes the current impact of AIDS in the age of effective treatments on those affected and infected. This is important and has until now been left unsaid. While the impact of AIDS is no longer certain death, it still has enormous ramifications on our personal lives and in our communities. Blood gives Hayes the vehicle to describe this beautifully.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara VINE VOICE on March 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bill Hayes has a rare ability to wind together a tale, seamlessly including historal details, up to the minute science and his own life history. It makes for great reading! Sometimes when reading books such as this, I sigh internally when I get to an historical part, bracing for some dry reading, but so often when reading Five Quarts, I barely noticed we had changed topics from hearing about Hayes' five sisters to learning about Echlich and his important blood discoveries to reading about a modern blood bank. All were equally well written and fascinating. I admit I passed by this book several times as I am a bit squemish, and worried it would make me faint, but it really didn't, in case you have similar worries! It DID make me decide I have waited long enough to give blood, and I want to become a blood donor.

I hope Bill Hayes writes much more! I would LOVE to read more about his life. I loved Sleep Demons, which is a similar book in its mix of topics, and it seems like he would have much more to say about his life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Brian Watkins VINE VOICE on November 27, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rarely have I encountered so unflinchingly honest a book. Mr. Hayes has an exceptionally complex relationship with blood; his partner of fourteen years is HIV positive while Mr. Hayes remains HIV free. Therefore, the book falls squarely into its own unique category--it is a journal of discoveries both personal and scientific. Its power is found in the author's candor as he shares his journey of discovery.

The personal dimension of this book is surprisingly vast. Though it does treat the science to the degree one would expect, the scientific and historical discussion is but the lesser portion. The true context lies in the author's expressed need to know what blood is all about and his discovery of how blood-related knowledge has shaped his life. The intensely personal nature of the work gives a depth to the discussion not present in the expected general science genre.

Though the author's frank treatment of his sexual orientation and personal history were startling, it can safely be said that Five Quarts is much more than a memoir and certainly more than the typical general science/history offering. Five Quarts was truly a rare and welcome find.
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