Howard's Reviews > The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History

The Dirt on Clean by Katherine Ashenburg
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's review
Feb 26, 2008

it was ok

The material's inherently interesting--the history of the West's relationship to bodily cleanliness and bathing--and she's done all the work, bringing all the research together, so if you want to learn about how we forsook water for about four hundred years, and believed that a protective layer of dirt was the only thing keeping us from getting sick, and how much effort it took to get the populace of major cities to use the public baths and showers that were installed a hundred or so years ago, this is certainly the book to read.

The more recent material, how advertising in the twentieth century taught us to hunt down every possible natural scent and eliminate it, is pretty sharp and snappy, but other than that and some not very successful attempts to tie it all together with 9/11 and SARS at the end, there's not much added value, though. It's just the research, organized and presented. Which is nothing to sniff at. Information is of value. It's just not very compelling.

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