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Cover for Rubbish!


The Archaeology of Garbage

William Rathje, Cullen Murphy


List Price: 19.95*
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It is from the discards of former civilizations that archaeologists have reconstructed most of what we know about the past, and it is through their examination of today’s garbage that William Rathje and Cullen Murphy inform us of our present. Rubbish! is their witty and erudite investigation into all aspects of the phenomenon of garbage. Rathje and Murphy show what the study of garbage tells us about a population’s demographics and buying habits. Along the way, they dispel the common myths about our “garbage crisis”—about fast-food packaging and disposable diapers, about biodegradable garbage and the acceleration of the average family’s garbage output. They also suggest methods for dealing with the garbage that we do have.

Praise For Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage

“A lucid and provocative book.”—New York Times Book Review

 “A mother lode of valuable information . . . There ain’t no flies on this book.”—Wall Street Journal

“[Rubbish!] demolishes myths that hamper our ability to act sensibly; as a nice bonus, it entertains as it goes about its business.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Readers will be impressed by Rathje and Murphy’s delightfully fresh take on the human foibles and the garbage heaps of history.”—Washington Post Book World

“An almost joyous iconoclasm about a vexatious subject.”—Boston Sunday Globe

“[Rathje and Murphy] cull from the record astonishing data to counter many a myth. . . . A refreshing treatment of a subject not usually associated with refreshment.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This lively study is an informative and often entertaining introduction to the science of garbology.”—Contemporary Sociology

University of Arizona Press, 9780816521432, 280pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2001

About the Author

William Rathje is the director of the Garbage Project in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Cullen Murphy is the managing editor of and a frequent contributor to the Atlantic. He lives in Boston.