Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David P. Clark

This is very informative book about the history and evolution of bacteria and viruses and how they have influenced the development of civilization, but I took issue with certain passages such as this:
“The great age of hygiene lasted from roughly 1850 to 1950. The front-line troops in the battle for cleanliness were mostly women. Since the 1950s, women have gradually abandoned the home and ventured forth to find external employment. Hygiene standards in the home have inevitably relaxed. Houses are cleaned less often, laundry is done less often, and both are done less thoroughly. Despite the outbreaks in fast-food restaurants that hit the headlines, most foodborne disease actually occurs in the home and goes unreported.”
I felt like the author was trying to say that women who work full time are putting their families health and hygiene at risk. It was suggestive that a woman’s place is in the home, cooking and cleaning. There was no evidence or stats supplied to support this theory that homes today are less hygienic than 60+ years ago or that even if they are, food poisoning is a direct result of it. Indeed, the author does at least admit that most food-borne diseases go unreported but this means there is no evidence to support his ridiculous claims.

Despite being full of useful information, passages like this unfortunately cause me to question the respectability and intent of the book as a whole. Fortunately, I did not pay anything for it - it was a Kindle freebie once upon a time.

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