Why do we still have nits? What exactly are 'purity rules'? And why have baths scarcely changed in 200 years? 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. Itis 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.