The Dirt on Clean

An Unsanitized History

Katherine Ashenburg

North Point Press

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The question of cleanliness is one every age and culture has answered with confidence. For the first-century Roman, being clean meant a two-hour soak in baths of various temperatures, scraping the body with a miniature rake, and a final application of oil. For the aristocratic Frenchman in the seventeenth century, it meant changing your shirt once a day and perhaps going so far as to dip your hands in some water. Did Napoleon know something we didn’t when he wrote to Josephine, “I will return in five days. Stop washing”? And why is the German term Warmduscher—a man who washes in warm or hot water—invariably a slight against his masculinity? Katherine Ashenburg takes on such fascinating questions as these in The Dirt on Clean, her charming tour of attitudes toward hygiene through time. An engrossing fusion of erudition and anecdote, The Dirt on Clean considers the bizarre prescriptions of history’s doctors, the hygienic peccadilloes of great authors, and the historic twists and turns that have brought us to a place Ashenburg considers hedonistic yet oversanitized.

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Reviews

Praise for The Dirt on Clean

“Brimming with lively anecdotes, this well-researched, smartly paced and endearing history of Western cleanliness holds a welcome mirror up to our intimate selves, revealing deep-seated desires and fears spanning 2000-plus years.” —Publishers Weekly

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About the Author

Katherine Ashenburg

Katherine Ashenburg is a journalist, lecturer, and regular contributor to The New York Times. Her last book with FSG, The Mourner’s Dance, was published in 2003.

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Dirt on Clean
An Unsanitized History
Katherine Ashenburg

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
North Point Press
October 2008
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780374531379
ISBN10: 0374531374
5 1/2 x 9 inches, 368 pages, 82 Black-and-White Illustrations Throughout, Notes, a Bibliography, and an Index
$24.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
North Point Press
April 2014
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466867765
ISBN10: 1466867760
368 pages, 82 Black-and-White Illustrations Throughout/Notes/Bibliography/Index
$7.99
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North Point Press

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