Thursday, November 10, 2011
1) Chaline, Eric. Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History. 2011. Firefly Books. Hardbound: 223 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the animals that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. Entries are organized by scientific name, except for Homo sapiens, which is featured last.
The 50 animals include the horse, dog, rat, whale, reindeer, beaver, flea, leech, dodo, falcon, oyster and shark. These creatures, great and small, have played central roles in the evolution of humankind, but they have remained at the periphery of our understanding of history. Whether it is an advancement in scientific knowledge, a trade war, disease and death, battles won and lost, or encounters with explorers in unknown lands, these animals have changed the course of history.
More than 150 elegant drawings, photographs and paintings, as well as excerpts from literature, highlight the concise text. Each animal is judged by its influence in four categories:
*Edible -- animals that have shaped agriculture, such as the cow
*Medical -- animals that are "disease vectors," spreading bacteria and viruses, from malaria to plague
*Commercial -- animals used for trade or in manufacturing
*Practical -- animals used for transportation or clothing.
The animals described in Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History are familiar, but their roles in human history are easily overlooked. This attractive reference gives us a fresh perspective on our place in the animal kingdom.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated account of human/animal interactions over the centuries.