Sunday, June 20, 2010

Poop Happened: A History of the World from the Bottom Up

On the surface, Sarah Albee's Poop Happened is an entertaining and informative history of the development of indoor plumbing. It is chock-full of more than enough illustrations and sidebars to keep the most reluctant reader going (and not realizing how much they are learning.) A lot of us get information about early Britain (London) from books, more of us are presented with stories from movies, whether on film or television. According to the author, none of these would have (or could possibly) give an accurate picture what it actually would have looked -- or smelled like, at a time when there wasn't anywhere to relieve oneself except indoors, (such as the royal court of Versailles, with 20,000 people living there, and 275 closestools - p76.) Readers will learn about the effects this sewage had on disease, how people dealt with their bodily functions at different times (how did knights 'go' while wearing armour, or french ladies in those very wide dresses...) and Albee's source notes, index and timeline are a welcome addition. This book will provide as much cultural information as historical, all wrapped up in a fun topic that will make it an easy sell to div 2 and 3 students who think they don't like history.

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