Category: History / General
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publication date: 19 March 2009
Number of pages: 368
'I return to Paris in five days. Stop washing.' So wrote Napoleon to Josephine in an age when body odour was considered an aphrodisiac. In stark contrast, the Romans used to bath for hours each day. Ashenburg's investigation of history's ambivalence towards personal hygiene takes her through plague-ridden streets, hospitals and battlefields. From the bizarre prescriptions of doctors to the eccentricities of famous bathers, she presents us with all the twists and turns that have led us to our own, arbitrary notion of 'clean'.
What the papers say:
"'Ashenburg rolls up her sleeves and takes us on an engaging tour of hygiene through the ages. Her masterful mix of erudition and anecdote makes this a fascinating, fast-paced read' - Time Out 'The only possible complaint about Ashenburg's exceptionally enjoyable book is that, being beautifully designed and illustrated, it is not suitable for reading in the bath.' - Sunday Times 'Thought provoking, charming and great fodder for dinner-party chat, this is a memorable read.' - Time Out 'This is a sparkling, discursive and witty history: good, clean fun.' - New Statesman '[T]errific history of personal hygiene... A wonderfully interesting and amusing book.' - Daily Mail"
Katherine Ashenburg has worked as an academic, a radio producer and Arts and Books editor of the Globe and Mail. She has written for the New York Times and her books include The Mourner's Dance: What We Do When People Die. She lives in Toronto.
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