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The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History Paperback – Oct 28 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Oct. 28 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676976646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676976649
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fun book to read, starting in Greek and Roman times this journey will open your eyes, pretty funny stuff, thank you Katherine.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By G. Poirier TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 22 2008
Format: Hardcover
In this book, the author discusses the varying views that people have had through the ages on the subject of the cleanliness of the human body. Spanning the period from ancient Greek times to the twenty-first century, the book contains details on the varying extents to which people sought (or desperately avoided) bodily cleanliness; the associated reasons for the many shifts in perspective are also presented. There is much fascinating information presented here and in great detail. On the down side, there may be too many details for the casual reader, and some of the detailed descriptions are (or seem to be) repetitive. Unfortunately, this tends to nudge some passages towards the boring side. The writing style is clear, friendly and accessible, although it seems to lack that certain spark that would make the book difficult to put down. But despite these minor drawbacks, this book certainly does contain a lot of fascinating information that should be of interest to anyone. However, I suspect that history buffs would likely relish this book the most.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gustav A. Richar on July 27 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author shows any curious reader the fluctuations of human cleanliness--well, mostly uncleanliness--from ancient Rome to our days. This is a well-researched book, which took the author four years to write and edit. It is a treasure chest offering the oddities of beliefs regarding the human body. For centuries "not washing" yourself was considered healthy and supported by medical doctors. The author reports about unbelievable deficiencies [forwarded by medical people of consequence] for "healthy" dirt and stench.

Exceptionally revealing are the vignettes offered on most pages like: how to cure the goat-like stench of armpits or when the chamber pots were emptied onto the streets of Madrid or where in Europe "the devout do not wash their bottoms." This would be a great read while, after a day's work, commuting home in an overcrowded subway, tram, or bus, with their many human smells filling the space.

But there's also another aspect. Whenever I watch now a movie set in--say--1720, I can imagine what's missing in this movie: dirt, filth, and the invisible stink.

This is a fascinating book.
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