Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 346–348 | Cite as

A Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain

By Robert Darby. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 2005, 374 pp., $35.00.
  • Jelto J. DrenthEmail author
Book Review

Darby, an Australian medical historian, planned this literature search as an introduction to a study on circumcision in his homeland, but the advent of this practice in Britain proved to be irresistibly fascinating. The impetus of the subject is enormous; at the end of the book, he presents an overview of the rise and fall of medical circumcision practices in Commonwealth countries and the U.S. It is remarkable that only English-speaking countries adopted circumcision as a health routine. In Canada, figures from the French-speaking parts are much lower than in the English-speaking provinces. Typical for the UK were the differing numbers in different social classes, with public school boys showing the highest percentages. Circumcision was often performed shortly before entering boarding school, reflecting a common fear that “bad habits” were easily learned when boys were close together. Britain contrasts sharply with the U.S. where, in most social groups, it became a neonatal routine....


Sexual Feeling Hygiene Promoter Purity Movement Semen Loss Medical Circumcision 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GroningenThe Netherlands

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