Review One kiss or two: In search of the perfect greeting (a review)

original work by ANDY SCOTT reviewed by BARRY TOMALIN

This book is about far more than its title suggests. Andy Scott is a historian, diplomat and government advisor who has greeted people in 60 countries. In his nine chapters, he examines the history and psychology of etiquette in a lively and entertaining fashion enriched with stories from his own and others’ experiences. In doing so, he uses the study of evolutionary biology, ethology, history, anthropology and futurism to explore the origins and development of culture and etiquette and where it might be going in the future. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a greeting as ‘a polite word or sign of welcome or recognition; the act of giving a sign of welcome; a formal expression of goodwill, said on meeting or in a written message’. Examining the origins of kissing and hand greeting in mammals, Scott cites Edward Wilson’s Sociobiology, in which he states that culture and social organisation in humans are responses to the same primate urges in animals for social bonding and security.

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