The Big Necessity

The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

Rose George

Metropolitan Books

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“One smart book . . . delving deep into the history and implications of a daily act that dare not speak its name.” —Newsweek

Acclaimed as “extraordinary” (The New York Times) and “a classic” (Los Angeles Times), The Big Necessity is on its way to removing the taboo on bodily waste—something common to all and as natural as breathing. We prefer not to talk about it, but we should—even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions. Disease spread by waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death. Even in America, nearly two million people have no access to an indoor toilet. Yet the subject remains unmentionable.

Moving from the underground sewers of Paris, London, and New York (an infrastructure disaster waiting to happen) to an Indian slum where ten toilets are shared by 60,000 people, The Big Necessity breaks the silence, revealing everything that matters about how people do—and don’t—deal with their own waste. With razor-sharp wit and crusading urgency, mixing levity with gravity, Rose George has turned the subject we like to avoid into a cause with the most serious of consequences.

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Ted Talks - Rose George: Let's talk crap. Seriously.

It's 2013, yet 2.5 billion people in the world have no access to a basic sanitary toilet. And when there's no loo, where do you poo? In the street, probably near your water and food sources -- causing untold death and disease from contamination. Get ready for a blunt, funny, powerful talk from journalist Rose George about a once-unmentionable problem. Rose George “talks shit” to raise awareness about the lack of basic sanitation worldwide.

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Reviews

Praise for The Big Necessity

“Rose George's subject—the global politics of defecation—is both superbly indelicate and morally imperative. With the basic health and dignity of several billion poor people at stake, we need to take s**t seriously in the most literal sense. Human solidarity, as she so passionately demonstrates, begins with the squatting multitudes.”—Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums

“In Rose George’s hometown in England, impoverished immigrants took up residence in the new public latrines. (‘Fighting over the more spacious disabled cubicle was fierce.’) Which is worse? Living in a toilet or living without one? George bravely—and sometimes literally—submerges herself in the tragedy and occasional comedy of global sanitation. Sludge, biogas, New York City sewage: I ate it up and wanted more! The most unforgettable book to pass through the publishing pipeline in years.”—Mary Roach, author of Stiff

"This fascinating, wise, and scrupulously drawn portrait of the world and its waste will last long as a seriously important book. Like a literary treatment farm, it manages to turn the completely unpalatable into something utterly irresistible. Rose George, a brave, compassionate, and ceaselessly impeccable reporter—and, when needed, a very funny one too—has performed for us all who care a very great service. A big necessity, indeed."—Simon Winchester, author of The Man Who Loved China

"This engaging, highly readable book puts sanitation in its proper place—as a central challenge in human development. Rose George has tackled this critical topic with insight, wit, and a storyteller’s flair."—Louis Boorstin, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

"Rose George has trolled the gutters of the world for the predictable low-matter and come up with something weirdly spiritual. Worship the porcelain god, revere its ubiquity and protest its absence: George reveals that the act of private and sanitary defecation is the key to health, the wealth of nations, and even civilization itself."—Lisa Margonelli, author of Oil on the Brain


In the Press

Rose George's The Big Necessity. - Slate Magazine
Every day, you handle the deadliest substance on earth. It is a weapon of mass destruction festering beneath your fingernails. In the past 10 years, it has killed more people than all the wars since Adolf Hitler rolled into one; in the next four hours, it will kill the equivalent...
- Slate


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About the Author

Rose George

Rose George is a freelance writer and journalist who has written for The New York Times, Slate, and The Guardian. She lives in London.

Rose George

Karen Robinson
Rose George

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Big Necessity
The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters
Rose George

Award

YALSA Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
July 2009
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429925488
ISBN10: 1429925485
304 pages
$9.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
October 2008
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780805082715
ISBN10: 0805082719
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 304 pages
$26.00

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Henry Holt and Co.
Holt Paperbacks
July 2009
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805090833
ISBN10: 0805090835
5 1/4 x 8 inches, 304 pages
$16.00
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From The Publisher

Metropolitan Books

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