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Publishers Weekly August 11, 2008 (Starred review)

With irreverence and pungent detail, George breaks the embarrassed silence over the economic, political, social and environmental problems of human waste disposal… an intrepid, erudite and entertaining journey through the public consequences of this most private behavior. » Full review

Kirkus Reviews August 1, 2008 (Starred review)

“Eighty percent of the world’s illness is caused by fecal matter,” writes British journalist George (A Life Removed: Hunting for Refuge in the Modern World, 2004) in her stupefying exploration of how we address, or fail to address, the rising global tide of human waste… George writes unflinchingly and with great style on this rarely explored topic… An utterly disarming and engrossing tour of all things excremental. » Full review

Daily Mail, August 29, 2008

As far as I can tell, this is the first popular study to be written on the subject. And popular it deserves to be. Rose George has just the right kind of breezy-serious approach needed to grapple with the universal taboos about human waste and what happens to it and what sanitation can do to prevent it infecting us. » Full review

Library Journal, September 1, 2008

George leavens her serious, if unpalatable, topic with an elegant and witty prose style. An important book for a world that will have to face the consequences of human waste disposal in an age of rapidly expanding populations; strongly recommended. » Full review

Daily Telegraph, September 13, 2008

The Big Necessity, a revealing global study that’s thoroughly researched and written with both wit and moral seriousness, is so good that no lav should be without a copy. » Full review

TimeOut London, September 15, 2008

George’s anecdotal and highly readable account breaks through the wall of euphemisms we’ve built around this taboo subject.» Full review


Independent, September 21, 2008

This is an extraordinary study in part because it focuses on an issue which we rarely discuss, or even give much thought to. » Full review

Guardian, September 27, 2008

Rose George’s book, which looks at the toxic effects of poor sanitation and the heroic efforts of the visionaries who seek to improve it. […] An invaluable contribution. […] As she prods, pesters and provokes, she proves an excellent shit-stirrer. » Full review

Observer, September 28, 2008

Terms for excrement remain our conversational taboo, as Rose George notes in this important book. […] Given the unappetising nature of her subject, her narrative is surprisingly tasteful and she successfully straddles a fine line between being scatological and silly and being humourless and self-righteous.» Full review

Sunday Telegraph, September 28, 2008

Throughout her exploration of the dark and pungent world of human waste and its disposal, George remains curious, sceptical, open-minded and remarkably good-humoured. […] Rose George has written a tactful, outspoken, amusing, shocking, highly informative and useful book. It may even – if you read it carefully – change your life. » Full review

Booklist, October 4, 2008 (Review of the Day)

With this unique, alarming, and strangely fascinating book, George hopes to jolt us into awareness and action. […] Witty, anecdotal, and sharply informative, George’s far-reaching exposé ultimately recalibrates nothing less than our understanding of civilization. » Full review

Economist, October 11, 2008

The last taboo, surely, is shit. The byproducts of digestion are so hard to mention—adolescent jokes aside—that symptoms of bowel cancer are often ignored until it is too late. But as Rose George explains in this fascinating and eloquent book, there is a great deal that needs to be said about excretion that is not remotely funny.»Full review

New York Observer, October 15, 2008

With wit, narrative skill and compassion, The Big Necessity, all feculent humor aside, re-humanizes shit, allowing us to examine a major international public health nuisance. […] That’s not to say that the book is all gloom and doom or a ponderous drag. In fact, it’s a breeze.»Full review

Sunday Times, October 19, 2008

An author who opens her book clambering into a manhole wearing crotch-high, tungsten-soled waders is clearly not shy of a challenge. […] For daring to fling back the privy door, George deserves a medal.»Full review

Slate, October 20, 2008

The Big Necessity belongs in a rare handful of studies that take a subject that seems fixed and familiar and taboo and makes us understand it is historically contingent and dazzlingly intriguing. Jessica Mitford did it with her classic study The American Way of Death; Michel Foucault did it with Madness and Civilization. Rose George has produced their equal: a gleaming toilet manifesto for humankind.»Full review

New Scientist, October 29, 2008

The Big Necessity is {…] a masterly and intelligent work of reportage from a woman who, in the course of her research, has sat and squatted from Dar es Salaam to London, Johannesburg to Chengdu, Mumbai to Moscow. George passes up few chances to entertain and elucidate in this new must-have for every toilet bookshelf.»Full review

San Francisco Chronicle, November 7, 2008

George’s lucid, intrepid book of globe-spanning reportage not only sustains this apparently mundane subject for 304 pages, but it also leaves a reader both outraged and unexpectedly inspired. Night soil will never seem the same again.»Full review

Time, November 18, 2008

George’s new book delves into the taboo subject of bowel evacuation, with tact, sensitivity — and the right amount of style.»Full review

New York Times, December 12, 2008

Ms. George is the kind of writer — tenacious and clever — who will put you in mind of both Jessica Mitford (in her exposé “The American Way of Death”) and Erin Brockovich. She is angry about what she discovers, and she offers the kind of memorable details that make her points stick.»Full review

New York Times (Science), December 29, 2008

[Ms George] glides with rueful and articulate poise through the biology, ecology, physiology, psychology and basic hydraulics of her subject, always articulate and persuasive. […] You will be hard pressed to put this extraordinary book down.»Full review

Texas Observer, January 9, 2009

[George’s] exploration of this neglected global question—what to do with the waste of almost 7 billion people—rests on first-rate scientific investigation, impressively dogged research, and a seductive narrative voice.»Full review

The Observer, June 28, 2009

The British may be renowned for loving lavatorial humour but, as George reveals in this eye-opening guide to the world’s sanitary habits, human waste is no laughing matter. [She] is an entertaining reporter who only occasionally digresses into excessive technical detail.»Full review

Daily Telegraph, June 28, 2009

I never thought I’d want to read a book about s—, but this one proved me wrong.»Full review

Guardian, August 1, 2009

Scatological history has never been so fascinating»Full review

American Scientist, March-April 2009

The Big Necessity is a book of impressions of meetings with sanitation reformers and toilet impresarios. It’s a “make you think” book, but readability comes at the expense of analysis and examination of solutions»Full review

New York Times (Paperback Row), September 20, 2009

In this lively book, George, a British journalist, covers the social, political, biological and moral aspects of the way the world thinks about and copes with human excreta»Full review