Facial hair has traditionally marked a passage into manhood, but its various manifestations have been determined by class, religious belief, historical precedent, and occupational status. Beards have at one time or another come to represent wisdom, goodness, sorcery, diabolism, psychological depth, and revolution; they have been purchased, elaborately trimmed, adorned, and dyed, and deracinated as a form of torture. To this day, the act of displaying facial hair is still regarded as a form of ultimate cool.
With wit and insight, One Thousand Beards explores the historical meaning of beards, moustaches, sideburns, and other forms of facial hair, from Freud's psychoanalytic interpretation, to a wild trip through history, to a rogue's gallery of famous bearded or moustached men, including Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Stalin, Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean, and Yosemite Sam.