The Skimmer

The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

By Rose George Metropolitan; 288 pages

Excrement. Stool. Defecation. S___. This unlikely tour of the underworld of human waste grew out of the author's 2006 series on sewage for the online magazine Slate. George, an accomplished London-based writer, has inarguably hit on an important topic. As many as 2.6 billion people lack sanitation--meaning no access to a latrine, a toilet, a bucket or even a box. The health consequences are, not surprisingly, catastrophic: "A gram of feces," George writes, "can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000...

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