Of Beards and Men: The Revealing History of Facial Hair

Image of Of Beards and Men: The Revealing History of Facial Hair
Release Date: 
December 7, 2015
University of Chicago Press
Reviewed by: 

Here a few questions you need to ask yourself before you decide to read this book: Do you have any interest in arcane subjects? In esoterica? In rarefied subject matter? Do you need cocktail or dinner party chatter to make yourself sound intelligent? Do any of your regular reading material preferences include sociology, anthropology, psychology, politics, biology, endocrinology, history, religion? Do the topics of hirsute men or men who opt to wear facial hair intrigue you?

Interestingly, from the perspective of fashion, this title has very little to do with the current stylistic trend of men choosing scruff, beards, or facial hair.

Part of what is extremely disturbing about Of Beards and Men is an underlying premise that only manly or virile men grow beards to send a message of uber masculinity. This is the same as saying only big breasted women can be construed as hyper feminine. The premise alone makes this book wildly questionable or highly suspect reading material.

Oldstone-Moore has painstakingly, exhaustively, analytically, pedantically approached and researched the subject of facial hair. The book is packed with information that requires an unending and amazingly inquisitive attention span that is not ever required of readers when the topic is fashion/style.

This is certainly not a book that approaches the subject matter from a fashion or style standpoint as it delves so deeply into history and the implications and theories of the how and why men grow or not grow beards. From Sumerians to Boomer and beyond, it must be assumed that there is an audience who hungers for all this data, but rest assured, this reviewer is not one of them.