Smith has written a fact-rich book. (The First Post)
Lucid and wide-ranging. (Bee Wilson, The Times (Books))
Jam-packed with historical information. (Jenny McCartney, Sunday Telegraph)
A breath-taking account of cleanliness from prehistory up to the present day. (Sophie Harrison, Sunday Times (Culture))
Authoritative and fascinating. (New Scientist)
Lots of fascinating revelations. (Liz Jones, Evening Standard (London))
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.