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Book Review: Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures

In Animal Behavior, Book Reviews, Nonfiction by Midge Raymond4 Comments

It’s been wonderful to see new books about animal minds and emotions, from Barbara King’s How Animals Grieve to Virginia Morell’s Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures (Crown, 2013), which offers a fascinating look at the emotional lives of a wide range of animals. Morell writes that it was in part due to her dog Quincie that she began to think about writing Animal Wise—when Quincie created her own game to play, Morell realized the extent to which animals have imaginations. As a science writer, she’s reported on animal studies before, including the work of Jane Goodall, …

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Book Review: Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police

In Book Reviews, Nonfiction by John Yunker0 Comments

So what is this book doing on EcoLit Books? Bear with me. Let me first back up about five years. I was researching my novel The Tourist Trail, wondering to what extent law enforcement agencies had tried to infiltrate animal rights groups. I had heard firsthand of an attempt of the FBI to infiltrate The Sea Shepherd Society, and I had come across several documented cases of the FBI “flipping” activists to turn on one another. But I came across little concrete evidence of undercover agents working for extended periods of time as activists. I felt confident this sort of thing …

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Book Review: Penguins: Natural History and Conservation

In Animal Behavior, Birds, Book Reviews, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Nonfiction, Oceans by John Yunker2 Comments

Let me preface this review by saying that I am a longtime fan of co-author Dee Boersma’s work. Years ago, I was part of a volunteer project at Punta Tombo, assisting Dee and her team with a penguin census. It was a week that changed the direction of my life in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine at the time. Dee has spent more than 20 years at Punta Tumbo researching Magellanic penguins — and helped to found the Penguin Sentinels organization. So now that you know of my affinity for penguins and those who work to protect them, on with …

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Book Review: The Hidden Life of Wolves

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Education, Endangered Species, Nonfiction by Beckie Elgin0 Comments

THE HIDDEN LIFE OF WOLVES  Jim and Jamie Dutcher National Geographic Press $25, 210 pages For six years they shared a 25-acre enclosure at the base of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains with a pack of wolves. Their office was a Mongolian yurt; their sleeping quarters a canvas tent. The path to the outhouse required frequent snow-shoveling for below-zero excursions.This was the life of Jim and Jamie Dutcher, award-winning documentary filmmakers. Their new book, “The Hidden Life of Wolves,” is the culminating portrayal of their experiences. Although “The Hidden Life of Wolves” is an oversized book and contains hundreds of the Dutchers’ …

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Book Review: Oceana, by Ted Danson

In Book Reviews, Nonfiction by JoeAnn Hart1 Comment

Cheers “Sam Writes a Book” FADE IN: INT. BAR – HAPPY HOUR IT’S AN AVERAGE NIGHT. USUAL CUSTOMERS PLUS REGULARS. SAM IS POURING A BEER FROM THE TAP AND CARLA AND COACH ARE TIDYING UP THE ROOM. FRASIER SITS AT THE BAR AND SAM PUTS THE BEER DOWN IN FRONT OF HIM.  FRASIER Well, I hear congratulations are in order, Sam. You, an author. Will wonders never cease?  SAM Thank you, Frasier. Coming from you, that’s quite a compliment.  CARLA A book? Your life in the Red Sox? CLIFF Your life as a drunk? SAM PICKS UP A GLASS AND …

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Book Review: Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals by Rory Freedman

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Climate Change, Nonfiction, Veganism by Midge Raymond1 Comment

Rory Freedman’s new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals, is a must-read for anyone who believes himself or herself to be an animal lover. The main idea behind this book is that many people who think they love animals in fact unknowingly participate in any number of things that do animals great harm — and this idea is indeed “radical” to people who love their dogs but eat pigs (who are just as intelligent) or love their cats but wear leather, and so on. Yet this book is not at all preachy; Freedman uses the same warmth …

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Book Review: How Animals Grieve by Barbara J. King

In Animal Behavior, Birds, Book Reviews, Nonfiction by John Yunker0 Comments

Let me begin by saying I recommend this book to anyone who doubts that animals grieve. The evidence presented is overwhelming. Dolphins who try to keep their dead calves afloat. Elephants who seek out the remains of their dead years after their passing. A cat who wails inconsolably after losing a sibling. A turtle who comes ashore and stares for hours at the photo of its dead loved one. Or the story of two ducks, Kohl and Harper, who had been rescued from horrible lives in a foie gras factory. Author Barbara King writes: That Kohl and Harper lived for …

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Book Review: Lapham’s Quarterly: Animals

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction, Journals and Magazines, Nonfiction by John Yunker0 Comments

The Lapham’s Quarterly has devoted its Spring 2013 issue to Animals. It’s a marvelous collection of historical essays and stories. Many of the stories included are in the public domain, such as this excerpt from Moby-Dick. What jumped out at me was this excerpt from the essay The Silent Majority by John Berger. The cultural marginalization of animals is, of course, a more complex process than their physical marginalization. The animals of the mind cannot be so easily dispersed. Sayings, dreams, games, stories, superstitions, the language itself recall them. The animals of the mind, instead of being dispersed, have been co-opted into …

Book Review: The Revenge of GAIA

In Book Reviews, Climate Change, Nonfiction, Oceans, Pollution by Midge Raymond0 Comments

The Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis & The Fate of Humanity by James Lovelock I began reading about Gaia after editing the second book in Blair Richmond’s Lithia Trilogy, The Ghost Runner, in which an environmental studies professor brings up the Gaia hypothesis in class. I was intrigued by the idea that the earth is a living, breathing entity that might defend itself against threats. Of course, this glimpse of Gaia was in a fictional context, and I wanted to learn more about the origins of Gaia. So I began reading the work of James Lovelock, the independent scientist …

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Book Review: Mark Twain’s Book of Animals

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction, Nonfiction by John Yunker0 Comments

I recently discovered (and ordered) a book that focuses on Mark Twain and his writings and views about animals. Edited by Mark Twain scholar Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Mark Twain’s Book of Animals, focuses on the many ways Twain not only wrote about animals but advocated on their behalf. Here’s an article that summarizes the book. And an excerpt: Fishkin was inspired to undertake the project after realizing how central animals were to Twain’s works and that his views on animals revealed a great deal about how he viewed people. Fishkin was surprised by what she found during the course of …