A brief history of the crapper.
The toilet and its use has been called pretty much everything under the sun, from thunder bowl to “plucking a rose,” when the outhouse was located in the garden. DiPiazza covers them all in her illuminating history of the toilet—or, more to the point, disposal of human waste: “Half a solid pound (0.2 kilograms), plus 47 ounces (1.4 liters) of liquid....that’s how much feces and urine an adult human produces, on average, every day.” Those words are from the first two sentences of the book, so the giggles and snorts are dispensed with quickly, and we get down to the very real issue of waste and health. As humans took to settlements and populations increased, sewage became an instant issue. DiPiazza goes back to Deuteronomy for some historical setting before soldiering through most known waste-disposal tools and systems. Lurking always is waste-bred disease, like plague and cholera, which really step hard on the giggles and snorts. Public health and sanitation become the driving issues, which DiPiazza handles adeptly, with the accompaniment of many fine archival images and illustrations, as well as photographs.
A good-spirited, wholly serious broaching of the—incredibly—still-taboo subject of human waste, once a problem and even more so today. (Nonfiction. 11-18)