Huey, an archaeologist, explains just why time travel is not for the weak of stomach.
Ah, the pleasures of a quick trip back to the 18th century—when people emptied chamber pots out of windows, free-roaming animals dumped poop on city streets, clothes were seemingly designed to be uncomfortable, and baths were rare (but infestations of lice, bedbugs, flies and intestinal parasites were not). Images of bugs scuttling over period illustrations and photos of pests and artifacts add vividly evocative notes to this rousingly unappetizing survey of the time’s fashions, living conditions and (lack of) sanitary practices. The author limits her purview to North American residents of European and African descent in, by and large, urban locales and doesn’t always get her facts straight (yes, there are mosquito species native to Europe). She strews her already sensational narrative with superfluous, boldface insertions of “Eew!” and “Gross!” Still, aside from one photo of a smallpox sufferer that may cross over, she ably walks the line that separates deliciously disgusting from genuinely disturbing.
Riveting as well as enlightening, this is built on a largely sturdy historical base. (endnotes, annotated reading and website lists, places to visit, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)