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Unmentionables: A Brief History of Underwear Hardcover – November 11, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Boxers or Briefs?" has become a political litmus test for presidential candidates, but what does the answer really tell us? Quite a lot, argue Elaine Benson and John Esten in Unmentionables: A Brief History of Underwear. The question posed to Bill Clinton in 1992 may seem silly, but undergarments have a distinctly political part to play in history. During the women's movement, it was not effegies of men that women burnt, but bras, a daily reminder of difference--if not inequality. The history of underwear is an exposition that marks out the roles of culture and nature, the position of women, and the American love affair with the T-shirt. This thoroughly illustrated volume covers all, from the first fig leaf to the newest Fruit of the Looms and from bloomers to panties, revealing a side of humanity not often seen in public.

Review

Without flogging the idea to death, Elaine Benson ... and John Esten ... suggest we are what we wear underneath it all.... The text is full of fascinating tidbits about the fripperies we take for granted.... The biggest news flash in Unmentionables? We finally learn what Scotsmen wear underneath those kilts. The answer is not "nothing." -- The New York Times Book Review, Judith Newman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (November 11, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684822660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684822662
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,867,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Sharon on April 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book told me nothing I didn't already know. Wow, they wore CORSETS in the 19th century! Gosh, what a revelation! Actually, there was a good deal of information packed into the 72 pages, except most of it was information I already knew from my experience as a seamstress and historical connesieur. The pictures, while interesting, were uninspiring and singularly unhelpful, although that was a function of layout more than visual choice: all of the pictures are grouped at the ends of the chapters instead of scattered throughout the text (preferably next to their descriptions). In other cases, there aren't even appropriate pictures for visualization purposes. For instance, Benson talks about various undergarments such as farthingales and bustles and paniers, but there are no pictures of even the full outfit to give you an idea of what might be worn underneath. Benson talks fancy and seems to be excellent at telling you that she doesn't know a heck of a lot more than you do -- except that she's the expert.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By puffinswan on August 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
There is not much to this book-it is just delightful fluff-but I enjoyed it immensely!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
fabulous overview of the history of undergarments, both male and female. delightful photographs and artwork, as well as readability. i am happy to have purchased this book
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book after seeing Mrs. Benson being interviewed on national television and I just had to get it. After picking up the book I was unable to put it down. It was amazing to think that the book could be so enriched with information about what most people think to be a silly subject. The book has both text and pictures, making an absolute joy to read. I was crushed when I read Mrs. Benson's obituary in the New York Times on Sunday, October 4th 1998. I find it amazing that a 70 year old woman could write a book about underwear of all things. I recommend this book for anybody who likes to read at all. I have bought around 15 copies to give to friends and family, seeing as that it makes a perfect gift. I also have one on every coffee table in my house. I strongly suggest that you buy this book ASAP!!!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I thought when I read Don Quixote by Cervantes that I'd read the best book ever written. Then I happened upon Tolstoy's War and Peace, and I thought no reading experience could ever compare. THEN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I FOUND IT: Elaine Benson's matchless "Unmentionables: a Brief History of Underwear." The pun in the title was divine! I thought the book could never live up to its wonderfully witty title! BUT, GENTLE AUDIENCE, IT DID. And more. The title is the least enjoyable part of the book! It is terrific! Witty and informative! Truly a masterpiece to rank with the great books of the millenium.
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