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Smell Detectives: An Olfactory History of Nineteenth-century Urban America

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by Melanie A. Kiechle
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This fascinating history of the way American cities smelled in the nineteenth century is not, we’ll admit, a straight-on food or drink title. But food processing facilities like slaughter houses, dairies, and breweries were prominent focal points in an emerging idea that things that smelled bad were not only unpleasant but also unhealthy. Kiechle, professor of history at Virginia Tech, deftly traces the many theories of disease that underlay approaches to smell abatement. She also notes which have left lingering, if disproven, fingerprints on modern ideas about fresh air. A noteworthy look at details of everyday life. B-&-W photos. Paperback

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