The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning, and Sexual Power of Red Hair (Hardcover)

The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning, and Sexual Power of Red Hair Cover Image
Check Availability Status
Out of Print


Part history, part cultural commentary, part memoir, The Roots of Desire is a witty and entertaining investigation into what it means to be a redhead.

A redhead rarely goes unnoticed in a crowded room. From Judas Iscariot to Botticelli's Venus to Julianne Moore, redheads have been worshipped, idealized, fetishized, feared, and condemned, leaving their mark on us and our culture. Such is the power of what is actually a genetic mutation, and in The Roots of Desire, Marion Roach takes a fascinating look at the science behind hair color and the roles redheads have played over time. She discovers that in Greek mythology, redheads become vampires after they die; Hitler banned intermarriage with redheads for fear of producing deviant offspring; women with red hair were burned as witches during the Inquisition; in Hollywood, female redheads are considered sexy while male redheads are considered a hard sell; and in the nineteenth century, it was popular belief that redheads were the strongest scented of all women, smelling of amber and violets. Redheads have been stereotyped, marginalized, sought after, and made to function as everything from a political statement to a symbol of human carnality. A redhead herself, Roach brings candor and brilliant insight to the complicated and revealing history of redheads, making this a stand-out narrative and an essential tool in understanding the mechanics and phenomenon of red hair.

About the Author

Marion Roach is the author of Another Name for Madness, a memoir of her family's struggle with her mother's Alzheimer's disease, and the coauthor of Dead Reckoning: The New Science of Catching Killers. A commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, she has been published in the New York Times Magazine, Prevention, Vogue, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Discover, and American Health. She lives with her family in upstate New York and teaches a memoir course at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.

Praise For…

"Roach approaches her subject from several angles, providing much that's entertaining."

Product Details
ISBN: 9781582343440
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: June 16th, 2005
Pages: 256