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Making the Body Beautiful 1st Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691026725
ISBN-10: 0691026726
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An intriguing inquiry into how aesthetic surgery has evolved into a major area of modern medicine, this book combines cultural perspectives on the body beautiful with a medical chronology. Gilman (Creating Beauty to Cure the Soul, etc.), who teaches human biology at the University of Chicago, focuses extensively on the nose as the original site of aesthetic procedures. He simultaneously explores "the basic motivation for aesthetic surgeryAthe desire to 'pass,'" starting with 16th-century surgery to rebuild the noses of syphilitics "so they would be less visible in their society"Aand its cultural implications. Early debate centered on whether surgery restored function or merely catered to human vanity. The "hierarchy of races" created by some scientists in the 18th century inspired procedures to create "American noses out of Irish pug noses," while "the origin of the 'correction' of the black nose is masked within medical literature [because] no reputable surgeon wanted to be seen as facilitating crossing the color bar." Gilman discusses political uses of aesthetic surgery, such as that of the Nazis to achieve the Aryan ideal, the transformation of former Klan Grand Wizard David Duke into what one commentator called "a blond, blow-dried replica of a young Robert Redford," transsexual surgery to permit "restoration of the relationship between the inner and outer selves" and aesthetic surgery as a fountain of youth. His fast-paced narrative blends cultural criticism with discussion of medical techniques and ethics in a thoughtful study that should appeal to both a lay and professional readership. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Gilman, a distinguished professor of human biology at the University of Chicago, has drawn on a rich variety of sourcessurgical texts as well as literature, art, and filmto trace the history and the cultural meaning of aesthetic surgery. His story begins with the Renaissance, when the focus on the human ability to transform the self and the world created the distinction between reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. In addition to undoing the ravages of disease, Gilman identifies other motives for aesthetic surgery: matching cultural ideals of beauty, repairing the impact of war-related injuries, and appearing youthful or erotic. Most disturbing are Gilmans wide-ranging examples of how aesthetic surgery has been used to correct signs of racial difference. Gilman brings his story to the present, discussing liposuction, breast enlargement and reduction, and transsexual surgery. He also gives examples from non-Western regions, reflecting the globalization of European American standards of beauty. A fascinating and provocative book that should appeal to scholars and informed general readers alike. Highly recommended.Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1 edition (April 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691026726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691026725
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #707,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sander L. Gilman, PhD, is a distinguished professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University. A respected educator, he has served as Old Dominion Visiting Professor of English at Princeton; Northrop Frye Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto; Mellon Visiting Professor of Humanities at Tulane University; Goldwin Smith Professor of Humane Studies at Cornell University; and Professor of the History of Psychiatry at Cornell Medical College. He has written and edited several books including "Seeing the Insane," "The Face of Madness," and "Sexuality: An Illustrated History."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bruce E. Henderson on May 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
The other critic seems to suggest that historical research has no value--only the voices of the present are of use to him. His loss--Gilman is an amazing historian and insightful interpreter of social customs and texts--and there is much to be learned from any book he writes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sander Gilman has delivered an intellectual tour de force in his book Making The Body Beautifu: A cultural history of aesthetic surgery. In nine chapters he covers such fields as the rise and development of surgery, how surgery designed to specifically alter appearance rather than fight disease or stave off death, became not only possible, but socially acceptable; the racial and cultural drivers that underpinned demand for such procedures as otoplasty ( pinning back ears) and rhinoplasty (reshaping noses); and the rise of the social cult of the body erotic, the body beautiful and the war on aging. He explores the impact of the mutilating injuries of the great war on the development of surgery and he deals with the issues around trans-gender dysphoria and surgery designed to alter the outward sexuality of the human body.
His research is detailed and impeccable and his writing easy to read. This book is a "must-have" text for anyone interested in the two-way interaction between between Society at large and the microcosm of surgical intervention. It is both a useful reference for the academic or surgeon and a fascinating read for the interested layman.
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19 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Robert Payne on February 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sander Gilman makes a good start on a great topic, but after a couple of chapters he falters and seems to loose his grip. Starting with some great tid-bits about plastic surgery ranging from buttock lifts to nose replacement, he wanders into an extended and boring research about Jewish hooked. Not satisfied, he adds an additional chapter about social history of the Jewish nose--perhaps interesting to some, but not what was promised in the title. From there the book is nothing but speculation from dead reaserch.
Two types of research are available for a writer: Live research and dead research. Live research consists mostly of interviews, discussions and question asking. Gilman will have none of it. His is dead research from cover to cover, finding his material mostly in the musty records of the 19th century. Even his photos and illustrations are from 100 years ago. To make matters worse, the publisher printed all the graphics ordinary book paper making them very blurry and almost impossible to decipher.
Most irritating of all is his habit of repeating his thesis on almost most every page as if he feels compelled to shove it down our throats. He tells us at least fifty times that people get plastic surgery in order to "pass" and feel happy. Come on Sander, enough is enough.
In sum: Sander Gilman, like Bill Clinton, starts with great promise but then proceeds to make a real mess of things.
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