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Why do we still have nits? What exactly are 'purity rules'? And why have baths scarcely changed in 200 years? The long history of personal hygiene and purity is a fascinating subject that reveals how closely we are linked to our deeper past. In this pioneering book, Virginia Smith covers the global history of human body-care from the Neolithic to the present, using first-hand accounts and sources. From pre-historic grooming rituals to New Age medicine, from ascetics to cosmetics, Smith looks at how different cultures have interpreted and striven for personal cleanliness and shows how, throughout history, this striving for purity has brought great social benefits as well as great tragedies. It is probably safe to say that no-one who reads this book will look at his or her body (or bathroom) in quite the same way again.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780199532087
ISBN-10: 0199532087
Format: Paperback
(196mm x 129mm x 25mm)
Pages: 470
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 24-Jul-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Virginia Smith

Virginia Smith is a freelance historian who specializes in the history of personal hygiene. She was previously a Fellow of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, under the supervision of the late Roy Porter, and is currently an honorary fellow of the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her current research interests include the history of cosmetics, spas, and nudity.

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