Alchemists sought gold in it and 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 homemade explosives. "It" is urine.
Unveiling the secret history of civilization’s most unsavory and unsung hero, this book reveals how our urine footprint is just as indelible as our carbon one. All the Fullers, Tuckers, and Walkers in the phonebook owe their names to it, and in 1969 four bags of 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 each year to replace the entire contents of Loch Lomond, Great Britain's biggest lake. 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. This quirky gift book is dedicated to singing the praises and revealing the astonishing uses and abuses of pee. (hb)