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We are very discreet. We disappear into a small room, perform the task, flush, wash and reappear as if nothing happened. Of course, hygiene is necessary – some faecal bacteria, if re-ingested, can cause very serious problems – and unpleasant aromas are best kept at bay.
But in all this hygienic discretion have we lost touch with an integral part of ourselves – something as much a part of living as breathing, eating and sleeping? Something enriching, creative and even enjoyable.
In The Story of Shit, Dutch biologist Midas Dekkers presents a personal, cultural, scientific, historical and environmental account of shit, from the digestive process and the fascinating workings of the gut, to the act of defecation and toilet etiquette. With irreverent humour and a compelling narrative style, Dekkers brings a refreshing, entertaining and illuminating perspective to a once-taboo subject.
Midas Dekkers is a bestselling Dutch writer and biologist. His books include Physical Exercise, The Way of All Flesh, Dearest Pet and The Larva.
Nancy Forest-Flier is a Dutch-to-English translator. She was educated in the USA and now lives in the Netherlands.
"A masterful writing style that is not only unique in biology but without equal in the whole of Dutch literature. The Story of Shit shows Dekkers once again to be in possession of a golden pen."
– New Scientist
"For those who aren't aware: we are not our brain, we are our gut. There is always that unmistakable Midas touch: his brilliant, sharp style makes it hard to suppress a laugh or a smile."
– Medisch Contact
"Dekkers doesn't hold back in his brimming history [...] You learn a lot [...] So, do I recommend a book that tells how the CIA tried using transmitters disguised as tiger turds to eavesdrop on the Viet Cong? Oh [...] faeces, yes."
– New Zealand Listener