search by author or title


A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery


David Gollaher (View Bio)
Hardcover: Basic Books, 2000; Paperback: Basic Books, 2001.


Circumcision of baby boys is the most common surgery performed in American hospitals. Recently, however, charges that circumcision deprives men of sexual feeling, leaves psychological scars, and has no clear medical benefit have caused doctors and parents increasingly to question and to reject the procedure. This book examines this peculiar practice from its origins to the present, its rituals and its medical justifications. Gollaher looks at the less common ritual of female circumcision as well.

"Thought-provoking...CIRCUMCISION is timely and densely packed with fascinating detail." — The Lancet

"Gollaher...skillfully argues that the operation violates the most sacred tenet of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm." — Playboy

"Fascinating." — Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

"CIRCUMCISION, Gollaher's judicious and anatomically unflinching study, seems likely to prompt considerable debate — not to mention a lot of crossed legs." — Mirabella

"Circumcision has never been so enjoyable. Gollaher offers a fascinating and comprehensive history.... In a lively, surprising, and often graphic exploration of the practice, Gollaher touches on topics ranging from Egyptian genital cutting for hygienic purposes to the modern trend of 'foreskin restoration.' Gollaher discusses Jewish, Muslim, and tribal rituals as well as medical procedures, and his discussion goes far beyond diagrams and definitions.... He covers every reason for the procedure, rational or not: cleanliness, covenant, aesthetics, disease prevention, repression of libido. 'Historians typically strive to make the strange familiar,' notes Gollaher. 'But I hope also to make the familiar strange.' ...His study is well-balanced and intriguing.... Informative, highly readable, and completely painless." — Kirkus Reviews

Up Back to Top