86th out of 163 books — 212 voters
Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity
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.
Hardcover, 457 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published May 24th 2007)
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This fat little book was full of interesting tidbits, and as a bonus, I'm pretty sure my library copy has actaully been dropped IN THE BATHTUB at some point. I had been eagerly anticipating reading this, and although I certainly learned some new things, most of it was rather slow going...More academic than I had imagined. (Then, just when I had gotten used to the pace and exhaustive amount of detail, it practically fast-forwarded through the 20th century and I felt like the ending was quite abru...more
I found this book to be a much needed scholarly journey into the history of hygienic practices amongst various ancient (and modern) cultures of Western Civilization. At the same time, I felt the Eastern representation was decidedly lacking and could have been present in this book. Still, I'm completely inspired to make my own Balm of Gilead, now.
I should note that I speed read this for work, so I didn't get to really immerse myself in it as much as I like to with pleasure reading. But still, this one provides an interesting historical look at the interwoven notions of physical and spiritual hygiene. I may have to come back to it and give it a proper read.