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Poop Culture: How America Is Shaped by Its Grossest National Product Paperback – May 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The mastermind behind poopreport.com, first-time author Praeger takes a scatological and sociological look at what we so thoughtlessly leave behind. As the title might suggest, Praeger isn't one to mince words (his tone is captured well in the opening line, "With enviable ease, poop slid out of the mechanical anus and onto the conveyor belt below"), but neither does he let the subject matter devolve to sophomoric humor. Instead, Praeger meticulously excavates the politics of poop, societal attitudes toward it and how both affect our culture and everyday lives. Propelled by a keen nose for trivia, Praeger chronicles everything from the rise in epidemics that led to better sanitation practices, culminating in the widespread adoption of the toilet, to the use of feces in art. Readers will also learn about the history of toilet paper, why toilets weren't commonplace in England until World War I and how to use a bidet properly. Happily, Praeger keeps things light but respectful throughout, even in a discussion of scatological satire; as such, his enlightening guide may very well represent the ultimate in bathroom reading material.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Praeger is the webmaster of PoopReport.com. This is his first book. Provenza is the director of the 2005 hit movie, "The Aristocrats." He is also the director of the upcoming movie, "Everybody Poops," based on the famous Taro Gomi children's book.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193259521X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932595215
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #987,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel M. Gerling on April 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Poop Culture is an excellent book about a topic that is largely (and unfairly) ignored.

Perhaps the greatest asset and the greatest weakness of the book is its breadth. The author covers many different approaches to the topic--from the psycho-social elements of poop (i.e. shame) to the history of the toilet to cultural symbolism to poop in art to the economic/ecologic effects of the way we as a society deal with our poop. It's at once odd and heartwarming to see a diagram of the best way to poop (squatting) or talk of South Park in the same book that also contains theoretical musings on Jonathan Swift and Marcel Duchamp.

Underneath the entertaining history and stories about poop there exist some fundamental and very important issues. For example, our culture's shame of defecation translates into a rather unhealthy and irrational way of dealing with poop on a practical level--as evidenced by our toilet and sewer design. Praeger provides some greener alternatives to the way things have been done in the past.

In short, this is the first book on poop since Dominique Laporte's history of French shit that I would call top notch. It's got interesting history, it's accessible (though I could do without some of the puns), it's got great illustrations (especially in the chapter on scatological art), and it puts Martin Luther, Milan Kundera, Rabelais, Wim Delvoye, and Mr. Hankey in stimulating conversation with one another.
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Format: Paperback
I'll avoid the obvious jokes any assessment of a book entitled Poop Culture instantly elicits. In fact, that a reviewer should feel somehow compelled to open with such an announcement of rhetorical self-restraint merely confirms the need for Praeger's valuable study. What is more, carrying it around on my cross-campus rambles as I mull over my endorsement - for this is, indeed, an earnest recommendation - I found myself self-consciously turning it face down, slipping it in a folder, or burying it under other books. I have been provoked once too often by the puzzled, inquisitive glances of my students and colleagues who had quickly taken in the (far too) bold and (gratuitously) capitalized title. Seriously, you can easily decipher the thing from 30 feet away! And believe me, I actually tested it. As shameful as pooping is, to invoke Praeger's dominant theme, to be caught reading about it is almost as bad, which is yet another confirmation of the need for such a work.

Praeger sifts the pertinent literature, both contemporary and historical - much as one of the founding scatological fathers, Rabelais, mentions early modern apothecaries sifting through children's excrement during cherry season for the precious pits - and produces a learned yet humorously readable and engaging treatment for what is perhaps the most universal of Western neuroses, what sociologist David Inglis, cited by Praeger, terms the "bourgeois fecal habitus." Moreover, he has much of use to say on the environmental costs and ultimate unsustainability of that habitus, which, as he demonstrates, we have forced upon ourselves in the name of civilization.
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Format: Paperback
Discussion of bodily functions and waste disposal issues has traditionally been classified in most cultures as 'too much information.' Victorian mores were obsessed with depicting sexuality and anything regarding the body as 'shameful.' These attitudes exist today, influencing a huge segment of the population which thinks that, beyond toilet training, going to the bathroom is vile and disgusting.

Enter David Praeger's 'Poop Culture,' a well-documented and researched, intellectual outing of a mostly-closeted subject. This book follows a timeline from our earliest, food-gathering ancestors and their completely laissez-faire attitude toward waste disposal through the development of privies and cesspits to the beginnings of our modern infrastructure/sewer systems and flush toilets.

There's also humor, medical advice and pop culture here, presented in a non-sensational, thoughtful manner with unique sociological and cultural perspectives. A healthful, enlightening read.
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Format: Paperback
This book is brilliant. A while ago I ended up finding Dave's website and found it absolutely fascinating. I read page after page. I was thrilled to find that he would be appearing in Philadelphia, PA while on a book tour. I convinced my husband as well as one of my most excentric friends (who also brought along her boyfriend) to drive about 2 hours to see this guy talk and hear about the book.

The program was hysterical. Even the skeptical boyfriend ended up admitting that it made for a really interesting and funny evening.

I had to have the book. I had to have it signed. He signed the book, "To Amy, my #2 fan. - Dave". Get it? And he does it in brown Sharpie. It doesn't get any better than that.

The book is amazingly well written. Not at all the "potty humor" that people might expect. It has an air of academia, a scattering of well placed sarcasm, and a level of wit not found in many humorous books - particuarly those written about such a unique subject.

I seriously think that our school literary system needs to be updated. Out with dusty old books like "Tale of Two Cities" and in with books like "Poop Culture". In reading this book (which is shorter than TOTC) you get exposed to lessons in anthropology, geography, history, psychology, economics, and myriad other topics. And, most importantly, you enjoy the scatological read.

Two thumbs waaaay up.
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