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Life of Pee: The Story of How Urine Got Everywhere [Hardcover]

Sally Magnusson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Oct 2010

Alchemists sought gold in it. David Bowie refrigerated it to ward off evil. In the trenches of Ypres soldiers used it as a gas mask, whereas modern-day terrorists add it to home-made explosives. All the Fullers, Tuckers and Walkers in the phonebook owe their names to it, and in 1969 four bags for storing it were left on the surface of the moon.

Bought and sold, traded and transported, even carried to work in jugs, urine has made bread rise, beer foam and given us gunpowder, stained glass, Robin Hood’s tights and Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl Earring.

And we do produce an awful lot of it. Humans alone make almost enough to replace the entire contents of Loch Lomond every year. Add the incalculable volume contributed by the rest of the animal kingdom and it might soon displace a small ocean. No wonder it gets everywhere.

In Life of Pee Sally Magnusson unveils the secret history of civilisation’s most unsavoury and unsung hero, and discovers how our urine footprint is just as indelible as our carbon one.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (25 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845135903
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845135904
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 12.1 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'...strangely fascinating.'

(The Sunday Times)

About the Author

Sally Magnusson is one of British broadcasting’s most familiar faces and voices. An award-winning journalist and writer, she presents Songs of Praise, anchors the Scottish news programme Reporting Scotland and reports occasionally for Panorama. She also hosts Radio 4’s Tracing Your Roots and Radio Scotland’s Sally on Saturday.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fun and informative 25 Nov 2010
By Lutra
I began by selecting an entry at random and ended up reading this in full. I suspect many other readers will become similarly hooked. It is fascinating: witty and erudite and thought-provoking. I have resurfaced with many anecdotes (Warhol, and Marilyn Monroe, and Churchill) that I am sure I will be retelling throughout the party season. The book is also quite right that we should be thinking more seriously about why we are sniffy about waste products, when we should be much more socially alarmed by the consequence of wasting them.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life of Pee 26 Dec 2010
By Dotty
A fascinating book but unfortunately the print size is very small so I could only read it in a bright light and my husband couldn't read it at all.

The book is written in chapters in alphabetical order so can be dipped into rather than read at one sitting. It is packed with information that you long to pass on to someone else. Don't become a pee bore. Buy the book and then send it on to someonelse as a POOK book (Pass On Or Keep). When you meet you can exchange favourite pee facts. However, despite many, many references to the benefits of drinking your own pee I have decided to stick with orange juice in the morning.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not a waste product! 16 Nov 2010
Interesting, humorous, enjoyable and strongly recommended. The Life of Pee is a fun book, bursting with peculiar facts and witty anecdotes, all delivered simply and eloquently by the author. Who ever knew a book about pee could be so interesting!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A potted history of pee from a hundred angles 6 Mar 2011
The subject is a taboo, and discussions of urine tend to be either scientific or juvenile. This is neither, and the result is a fascinating book.

Running A-Z style through a collection of anecdotes and historical revelations, the book brings together a spectrum of stories about urine. The value of this 'waste product' is undeniable as it has proved vital as a fertiliser, in the textile industry, making bricks for war refugees in water scarce areas and so many other ways. It makes a good case for being of medical value. Then there are the historical stories: often quirky, generally thought provoking.

This book IS funny, but it's also interesting. I also dare to believe that it makes a point: our whingy aversion to is as an unclean substance has unfairly made urine a taboo, and we could nd should be using this terrific stuff better. In years gone by, a cart would trundle down the street and we would empty our bed pans to enable industries to proceed. Should those days return?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener 13 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a glorious celebration of an aspect of being human we prefer to ignore unless or until something goes wrong. It seems our forebears were far more cognisant than us about the importance and value of urine. Having been obliged to measure my output daily for the benefit of numerous medics recently, this book proved a welcome tonic. Hopefully no one is going to ask me to start drinking the stuff anytime soon!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, funny and thought provoking 1 Jan 2013
I am not a reader of non-fiction but this book is wonderful. I found myself fascinated by the history of pee usage, the role it has played in clothing, skin care, health care and so much more. It is tongue-in-cheek but never tasteless! In its a-z format it is a book to dip in and out of, possibly to be kept in the most appropriate room while you do so. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it as an interesting social history with a difference.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The A - Zee of Pee... yes,Urine. Who would have believed it was so rich in substance and found recycled in so many ways and in so many places? Highly recommended if you're not one of those who is afraid of taboo...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Greet fun 24 Mar 2014
By Rowan
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Full of information and written in an interesting informative way. Good to pick up and read in bits. A great bathroom book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
this is a very witty and entertaining book
Published 7 days ago by MR M LAMB
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
v good
Published 11 days ago by Andrew C Broughton
1.0 out of 5 stars Book
Not interesting. A bit sensational!
Published 21 days ago by D. J. Young
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Read!!
I have purchased this a few times for various people but have not read it myself!!
Job is working with bladders and kidneys so thought appropriate!!
Published 8 months ago by Ann
5.0 out of 5 stars arcane stuff
this is the sort of stuff I find fascinating and great for just dipping into as well as a reference tool
Published 9 months ago by Mr. Mrs. Dh Oliver
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining as well as extremely informative
The book is small enough to carry in a coat pocket. It has a hard cover and a jacket; the quality of the print is 1st class but I did find the size of the font a little bit too... Read more
Published 21 months ago by ReviewMan
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched for such an unusual topic.
I bought this book because was intrigued by the title and I must say that I'm glad I did as it is full of interesting information about the uses to which this substance has been... Read more
Published on 16 July 2011 by T. P. Spowart
5.0 out of 5 stars Pee book
Great book, bought two for Christmas for partner and daughter. Obviously very well thumbed by both of them because they keep quoting bits at me - funny, informative and a good... Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2011 by pat
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