LEWD: The Secret History of English Dirty Words
by D. W. Kreger
Windham Everitt Publishing

"None of the books solved the mystery...."

With few exceptions, almost everyone over the age of three knows that certain words are considered to be "dirty." But what makes a word fit that classification? Is it the connotation or the usage? What makes saying such words so taboo that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will fine someone for saying it when broadcasted? Well, as the author points out, it comes down more to the history of these words. Most words that are considered dirty nowadays were just commonplace words but became taboo to use. In this book, Kreger explores the connection between the usage of dirty words and the historical implications of them.

Anyone looking for an informational study on the history of how dirty words became what they are today should definitely pick up this intriguing book. Kreger's text leans more heavily towards the history of the terms than what some readers might initially assume will be just a humorous read. There are certainly funny quips to be found, but the focus is more on the historical background of the words covered. History buffs will delight in the intricate details and timelines, but those who typically don't read many history books won't feel they have been bogged down in the details either. The author has crafted his narrative to read smoothly and easily, knowing which points to elaborate on and which ones to keep simple. The inclusion of various well-known historical figures and celebrities brings a unique twist on how history shaped these words. It helps to bring in a focal point for those who aren't as familiar with some of the other individuals mentioned and also aids a more modern audience with references to celebrity figures they might have heard of.

Category Finalist for the 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award

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