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FIT FOR AMERICA : Health, Fitness, Sport and American Society by Harvey Green (The Johns Hopkins University Press: $10.95)

January 01, 1989|ELENA BRUNET

During the 1830s, mustard plasters and foot baths, blood letting, "spicy and emetic botanicals . . . and enemas laced with cayenne pepper" were the preferred health remedies.

In the early 20th Century, Howard Fletcher recommended chewing food so thoroughly "that all flavor was extracted and the remains involuntarily swallowed"--for "efficient" digestion.

In "Fit for America," Harvey Green draws from catalogues, diaries and medical books to piece together an engaging study of the American drive for physical fitness from the 1830s to the present.

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