From the extraordinarily painful initiation rite of the ancient Egyptians, through the Hebrew purification ritual, through its use by nineteenth-century doctors as prevention for ailments including bedwetting, paralysis, and epilepsy, circumcision has had a long and varied history. Perhaps the greatest mystery, however, is its persistence over time through vastly different social contexts.Historian of medicine David Gollaher takes a comprehensive look at the practice in this lively, scholarly history. Circumcision also addresses the growing controversy over the procedure’s continuance, and those opposing routine circumcision will find support here. Gollaher concludes that “if male circumcision were confined to developing nations, it would by now have emerged as an international cause cébre.”

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