Red is the first book to explore the history of red hair and red-headedness throughout the world. With an obsessive fascination that is as contagious as it is compelling, author Jacky Colliss Harvey begins tracing the redhead gene in prehistory as it made its way out of Africa with the early human diaspora, only to emerge under Northern skies. She goes on to explore red hair in the ancient world (from China to the Islamic kingdom of the Khazars), the prejudice manifested against red hair across medieval Europe, and red hair during the Renaissance as both an indicator of Jewishness and the height of fashion in Protestant England, thanks to Elizabeth I. Colliss Harvey also examines depictions of red hair in art and literature, looks at modern medicine and the genetic decoding of red hair, and considers red hair in contemporary culture, from advertising to 'gingerism' and bullying. More than just a book for redheads, Red is a fascinating social and cultural celebration of a rich and mysterious genetic quirk.
Read a review by Debra Blunier: