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Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth Paperback – January 17, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0393329476 ISBN-10: 039332947X Edition: Reprint

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In these brief, elegant essays, the author raises the concept of dirt to new levels. Logan, a monthly columnist for the New York Times, looks at soil formation and development. His topics range from quarries and the foundations of cathedrals to graveyards and earthworms, from husbandry in ancient Rome to composting in Florida. Logan pays tribute to the dung beetle as a symbol of renewal; he notes that dirt is the source of many drugs that work against infectious diseases (penicillin, streptomycin). He discusses the many forms of clay and the agricultural practices of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the Iroquois. Dirt is a natural history of the soil and our connection with it.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Logan displays a precision of language that would be envied by any poet." The Independent"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039332947X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393329476
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The book itself, however, is absolutely a FANTASTIC READ!!!
John D. Horn
Logan's writing is cogent, witty, at times poignant; his imagination is fantastic.
Dorothy R.
So don't read this book to learn about dirt; read it to learn about life.
Sauce Boss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 1997
Format: Paperback
Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan is an enlightening and heartening read for anyone who studies the earth in science or daily living. Although a few of the factoids are not quite correct (watch that logarithmic scale!), this book is full of fascinating science of the soil, surrounded by heartfelt prose. Logan makes earth-centered philosophy accessible to anyone who has ever had a gut feeling that the land is good. The religion of the soil he presents is unobtrusive, yet all-pervading. Read it and feel good.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy R. on August 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A galaxy of stars! Dirt is unique, unlike any other book I've read. (Bill Logan tends to write books like that -- his new one, Oak: The Frame of Civilization, is also unlike anything I've read, including Dirt.) The essay format works well. Logan's writing is cogent, witty, at times poignant; his imagination is fantastic. Rousing and satisfying my curiosity, he asks intriguing questions, and in seeking answers follows paths I would not have thought of but am glad to be led down by such a brilliant, quirky, earthy guide. Technicalities of soil science and geology are illuminated by personal experience and reflection on spirituality, childhood dreams Ilike digging to China), and encounters with masters of human achievement. This book may be ten years old but it's still exciting and provocative. I'm pleased to hear it is to be the subject of a documentary film; I hope that will lead to a reprint of this book, which is long overdue.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 1997
Format: Paperback
Book Review "Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth" William Bryant Logan Riverhead Books © 1995 The Berkley Publishing Group New York Available in Paperback William Bryant Logan writes about a substance that most take for granted and choose not to learn about. Soil is all around and is the life sustaining substance. It should be treated with care and respect. Readers at once will feel at ease with the writing style employed by Logan. Technical terminology is seemingly hidden within the prose. Disguised so that it is does not intimidate the casual reader, yet it informs. The style makes this effort a must read for those who appreciate quality writing. One might not expect to find references to Jefferson, Emerson, Mary Magdalene, and Roger Williams along with a description of the efforts of the dung beetle and the earthworm. Yet, Logan is able to introduce us to "Compost Man" and George Perkins Marsh with equal ease and skill. Logan explains the origin of the word "dirt" [excrement from the Old Norse] and introduces us to the teeming vat of bacteria living within the soil. In the chapter titled The Soil of Graves, Logan describes in morbid detail the negative effects of embalming humans. This book would make a wonderful read for anyone interested in Geography, Earth Science or Environmental Science. I would encourage you to copy [with permission] portions for your class to read. All manner of resources on planet Earth are destined to become recycled: dirt to dirt. Money Back Guarantee: 1] Buy and read the book "Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth". 2] After reading the book, if you are not pleased with your purchase, return to the bookstore and ask for a full refund. 3] I don't guarantee that you will receive a refund, just that you have the right to ask.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Aerial-B on November 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been reading 'Dirt' for a few weeks now. I have already finished reading once and started all over again. The book is amazing. I loved it. Language, presentation, information are all valuable. HOWEVER, there are no references, no bibliography of the book. This is extremely disappointing for me. 'No reference' downgraded the value of the book, and the science in it as well. Sad!
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Joan M. Stevens on December 16, 1997
Format: Paperback
I feel in love with this book. Bought it as a gift and had much trouble giving it up. What a beautiful testimony to the earthly process of life and death in which we all participate. Logan's cross-disciplinary commentary was heartfelt and informative. I have told everyone I know to read it. It is magnificent.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Allen on November 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
A well-written and researched tribute to the mysterious medium that provides the foundation for life on earth. A series of short stories that paint a colorful picture of how soil evolved with the earth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John D. Horn on February 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are buying this as a gift for someone, you need to understand that this is absolutely the CHEAPEST, POOREST-QUALITY copy that money can buy. The book itself, however, is absolutely a FANTASTIC READ!!! If there where such a thing as a "Mandatory Reading List" for the entire human race, this book should be on it, and near the top.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Soil Student on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
since this book was first published (1996, i believe) i have purchased at least 3 dozen copies for gifting (or replacing after having gifted my own copy)....

written much in the style of john mc phee, this collection of essays can be enjoyed equally by earth scientists and non scientists ....not at all preach-y, rathere a beautiful way for all to become more aware....to appreciate and honor and protect our precious planet...enjoy! and pass it on!
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