One for the Road: Foot Odor: A History

From the same people who have brought you volumes about single topic esoterica, comes the newest, perhaps most important book: Foot Odor: The Complete History.

Author Mark Sarklansky, whose books about Flour and Glue revealed the untold stories of these common products, has really outdone himself here with a mesmerizing account of where foot odor came from and its impact on world history.

Did you know that the course of the American Civil War was changed by the smell of a man’s feet. Yes, it was General George Pickett who was stuck in a poorly-ventilated tent with one of his young Lieutenants, a fresh-faced Georgian named Nord Glaspie, whose foot odor was notoriously noxious. Pickett, who was drawing up plans for the next day’s battle, which was supposed to involve a patient assault on the rear guard of the Union forces, apparently was so overcome by Glaspie’s foot odor, that he ran from the tent, eyes watering as he screamed, “Oh for goodness sakes, just rush the bastards!”

Then there is the story of the Titanic and the watchman who made a quick run to his cabin to replace his odor eaters (made from ground up charcoal briquettes and placed in gopher skin in those days), thereby missing the approaching iceberg which…well, you know the rest of the story.

Yes, this is history at its finest, and a deep, long look at foot odor and its historical impact has long been missing from the bookshelves.