Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery

Front Cover
Basic Books, Feb 7, 2001 - History - 253 pages
2 Reviews
This worldwide history of circumcision, from ancient times to the present, looks at the procedure as initiation, religious and social ritual, and indicator of ethnic and social status. How has a medical practice that carries substantial risk to the patient and offers very little actual benefit become so widely accepted by parents and fiercely advocated by the medical community? Historian of medicine David Gollaher tells the strange history of medicine's oldest enigma and most persistent ritual. From the extraordinarily painful initiation rite of the ancient Egyptians, through the Hebrew purification ritual, through circumcision's use by the rising medical community in the 19th century as prevention for ailments ranging from bedwetting to paralysis, the great mystery has been the persistence of the practice through vastly different social contexts.

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Circumcision: A History Of The World's Most Controversial Surgery

User Review  - Carlos Burga - Goodreads

“It's a lot easier to see what's irrational in another culture than it is to see it in our own.” This quote by Cheryl Chase, serves to highlight some of the insights that this book gives into our ... Read full review

Review: Circumcision: A History Of The World's Most Controversial Surgery

User Review  - T. Strange - Goodreads

Very interesting and horrifying. Read full review


Cha ptcr 1 The jewish Tradition
Chapter4 From Rrtual to Science
Chaptcr5 The Fabric of the Foreskin
Chapter7 Backlash
Chapter8 Female Circumcision
Evaluative Research and

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2001)

Dr. Gollaher is President and CEO of the California Healthcare Institute and the author of Voice for the Mad: The Life of Dorothea Dix. He lives in San Diego, California.

Bibliographic information