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Dark Archives

A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

Megan Rosenbloom


A fascinating, terrifying look at the rarest books - bound in human skin - and the stories of their creation. There are books out there, some shelved unwittingly next to ordinary texts, that are bound in human skin. Would you know one if you held it in your hand?
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The new updated edition of David Olusoga’s vital book on black British history

"Groundbreaking" – Observer

In Dark Archives, Megan Rosenbloom, a medical librarian and a cofounder of the Death Salon, seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind this anthropodermic bibliopegy. Dozens of these books still sit on the shelves of the world's most famous libraries and museums. What are their stories? Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, mental patients, beautiful women, and indigents whose lives are bound together in this rare, scattered, and disquieting collection. It also tells the story of the scientists, curators, and librarians like Rosenbloom - interested in the full complicated histories behind these dark artifacts of nineteenth-century medicine - are developing tests to discover these books and sorting through the ethics of custodianship.
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Book publisherFarrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
Publication date20 Jan 2021
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