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Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City MP3 CD – Audiobook, 18 Mar 2014


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Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Corporation; MP3 Una edition (18 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1480569054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1480569058
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is very detailed and is excellent to support my University course for my Bsc in wastes management and pollution control.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating, well-written and thorough 23 Mar. 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In Picking Up, Robin Nagle brings us an unprecedented, meticulously researched and also first-hand look not just at the workings of the Department of Sanitation of the City of New York, but also a look at the people who do the job: from their practical jokes to their sensibility, to what makes them tick and what makes them mad to - and this may be my favorite part - their rich jargon. Nagle didn't just do field work to research the book, she ultimately joined the ranks of the DSNY and worked full time as a "garbageman". The result of her efforts is a rich, beautifully balanced portrait of the DSNY system that I could not put down (and I have absolutely nothing to do with, nor do I know anyone who works in, trash collection). The book argues that trash collection is among the most important (and dangerous) jobs in New York, and it contains a wealth of information about life in throughout the history of the city that could stand on its own as a history of New York.

Picking Up would be worth reading if only to learn the DSNY workers' perspective on the disastrous 2010 Christmas Blizzard in New York - a nightmare of failed logistics that was publicly (and, in Nagle's view, wrongly) blamed on DSNY supervisors and rank and file, who were portrayed as bureaucratic, vindictive and irresponsible. The stories of true sacrifice by DSNY employees are deeply moving, and I put the book down with a new-found and admiration and deep respect for those who do the job. This is one great book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Open the lid; it's a good trashy read... 11 May 2013
By John Williamson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's difficult for anyone to imagine a good book about trash... call it refuse, rubbish or garbage, whatever you might like. However, sometimes one can be quite surprised, even as a New Yorker.

Author Robin Nagle's Picking Up is about the DSNY, the City of New York's Department of Sanitation, and it's an interesting and sometimes fascinating book. As the subtitle "On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City" suggests, this one takes you down to the road level where the trash bags, garbage cans and dumpsters exist, waiting their scheduled pickup.

Ms. Nagle teaches anthropology at New York University, and has been anthropologist-in-residence at the DSNY since 2006. After reading this book, it isn't hard to be a bit more grateful of the efforts of the men and women who clean up after us, regardless of where you live. These unsung heroes are essential to us, unless you're one of those who has to take your own trash to a municipal dump or some such suburban facility.

As one reads the pages of this work, it becomes amazing to realize that Manhattan Island itself has historically been extended into both the Hudson and East Rivers by building on its own trash. The author does an excellent job of covering the role of the long history of sanitation and its workers in the Borough of New York, going from such topics as 17th-centuryNew Amsterdam's ban on scavenging pigs to Street Commissioner George E. Waring Jr.'s spotless White Wings cleaning crews at the turn of the 20th century. The author also looks at the command breakdown that tarnished the reputation of the DSNY after the 2010 blizzard.

She reveals that the DSNY has its own fascinating jargon: "getting banged" is undergoing corrective disciplinary measures and "disco rice" refers to maggots. The term "mongo" refers to objects salvaged by sanitation workers from the trash, and can be used as either a noun or as a verb. In addition, sanitation workers should be referred to as "san men" and not as "garbage men."

We are reminded that sanitation workers have a higher on-the-job death rate than any other uniformed department in the city, firefighters and police officers and firefighters included. They have one of the 10 deadliest jobs in America, due to traffic accidents and exposure to toxic waste, yet their responsibilities are not at all as respected, much less admired. She quotes a sanitation worker: "You can go your whole life without ever having to call a cop. And you can also go your whole life without ever calling a fireman. But you need a sanitation worker every single day."

Ms. Nagle's book is not just to make us more aware of sanitation workers. She reminds us that they are New York's Most Essential. She writes: "Sanitation is the most important uniformed force on the street."

Picking Up is the result not just of Ms. Nagle's years researching the New York Department of Sanitation, but of a deeply-rooted preoccupation with trash that dates back to her own childhood. She has taken a topic that many of us would pass on, thinking that it would be boring or perhaps even disgusting, but instead we find a book that reads like a novel. Open it and you'll find (and pardon the pun) that it's a good trashy read.

5/10/2013
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Who Knew?? 14 April 2013
By S. Olsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a child, I remember watching a "Sesame Street" segment about garbage disposal. It began with a banana peel being tossed in a garbage chute, and ended with a barge chugging out of a harbor with a sing-songy jingle reciting, "Goodbye, garbage!" I was always troubled by that segment - notwithstanding the obviously absurd implication that garbage dumped in the ocean ceases to exist, I also felt that there must be more - a LOT more - to the story. Years later, I sometimes observed rumbling garbage trucks and wondered about their mission and the people who carried it out.

Enter Dr. Robin Nagle, anthropologist, professor, and sanitation worker. "Picking Up" is a moving, gritty, and sometimes laugh-out-loud-funny meditation on sanitation in the modern world. Nagle considers sanitation workers the single most important uniformed force in New York City, and after recovering from the audacity of such an idea, I had to acknowledge its plausibility. Her descriptions of New York BEFORE modern sanitation opened my eyes to blessings I never realized I had. I used to think of the City as grimy, even dirty, but compared to the ankle-deep filth and rampant disease of earlier times, I now recognize its astonishing cleanliness.

This is one of the most literate books I have ever read. Nagle tips her hat to at least half-a-dozen literary works, from Dante's "Inferno" to Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". That, the exhaustive end notes, and the occasional word that sent me to a dictionary ("peristaltic"??), engendered a deep respect for the author's scholarship. I am relatively well-read, with an above-average education, but Nagle's prose led me to intellectual depths I never even knew were there.

I felt that "Picking Up" is about so much more than just garbage and sanitation workers. This is a book linked to universal human experience, through the basic life functions essential to one of today's most vibrant and challenging urban centers.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A great history of NYC' s forgotten department, the DSNY 5 April 2013
By EE - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If one has ever wondered what it's like to be a sanitation worker in the city of NY, this is the book to read. Professor Nagle has crafted not only an excellent, informative history the Department, both it's ups and downs, but a history of the sanitation problems of the city itself. The book runs true, as Professor Nagle was on the job. The anecdotes she fills the book with gave been heard and re-heard throughout city garages for years. It's also a fun, fast moving book that made me nod or laugh many times. Bravo, Professor Nagle!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Robin knows the job, she worked the job. 19 May 2013
By Peter Senica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm on the job. It takes courage to get on the job and put your nose and back into it. She is a skilled writer. I have great admiration for her participation, not just an outside observer. Your sincere fan, Peter
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