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    Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth (Paperback) By (author) William Bryant Logan


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    DescriptionWilliam Bryant Logan has written an elegant and thoughtful natural history of the sustain us, as well as memoir of his own highly personal connection to it. He combines science, philosophy, and history with a quirky curiosity about why the universe works the way it does. After reading Dirt you won't see the teeming life we walk on every day in quite the same way.

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  • Full bibliographic data for Dirt

    The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) William Bryant Logan
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 203
    Width: 130 mm
    Height: 201 mm
    Thickness: 15 mm
    Weight: 204 g
    ISBN 13: 9781573225465
    ISBN 10: 1573225460

    BIC E4L: SCI
    LC subject heading:
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: S7.0
    LC subject heading:
    BIC subject category V2: PD, HP
    LC subject heading:
    BIC subject category V2: RBGB
    DC20: 550
    BISAC V2.8: TEC003060, NAT000000
    Time Warner International
    Imprint name
    Time Warner International
    Publication date
    01 May 1996
    Publication City/Country
    New York
    Review text
    Logan, a columnist at the New York Times and contributing editor at House Beautiful, raises dirt from the humble to the sublime in this paean to the substance in all its geological, agricultural, and spiritual manifestations. Belying its prosaic title, this descriptive history of the most basic stuff on earth is unfailingly beguiling and literate. From its creation on the planet some three billion years ago, Logan shows the interconnectedness of the soil with life and especially with human civilization. Man's veneration and understanding of soil are shown in the writings of Virgil and Cato; Saint Phocas, the patron saint of the garden, instructed the Romans who killed him to compost him in his garden; the ancient Egyptians worshiped the dung beetle for its soil-enriching properties; John Adams wrote lengthy essays on manuring. In a section on graveyards, Logan notes how formaldehyde-filled corpses pollute the earth and groundwater, in contrast to the rather grisly but highly salubrious manner in which untouched bodies contribute to soil fertility. Readers will also find discussions on living inhabitants of the soil, such as the earthworm and gopher. Other chapters examine how the foundations of cathedrals are dug; whether dowsing is a legitimate way to find water; and which soil bacteria have contributed to the cures for tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Logan's point of reference is occasionally Scripture-based, yet never obtrusively so; following a detailed, scientific discussion on whether clays are the birthplace of life, the author writes, "Perhaps this Genesis story can symbolize the rise of life as we experience it, from the joining of organic and inorganic realms. Wouldn't it be strange if...clay performed the function of angels?" Frequently philosophical, at times bordering on the mystical, but mainly fertilely attuned to the earthiness of its subject. (Kirkus Reviews)