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Animal Rights: What Everyone Needs to Know® 1st Edition

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199739967
ISBN-10: 019973996X
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Editorial Reviews Review

What Everyone Needs to Know


Who it's for:

Busy people with diverse interests, ranging from college students to professionals, who wish to inform themselves in a succinct yet authoritative manner about a particular topic.

What's inside:

An incisive approach to a complex and timely issue, laid out in a straight-forward, question-and-answer format.

Meet Our Authors

Top experts in their given fields, ranging from an Economist correspondent to a director at the Council on Foreign Relations, you can trust our authors’ expertise and guidance.

Popular Topics in the "What Everyone Needs to Know" Series

  • International Politics
  • Environmental Policies
  • World History
  • Sciences & Math
  • Religion & Spirituality
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The emotionally, legally, and morally fraught subject of animal rights is given a clear-eyed examination in this volume of Oxford’s What Everyone Needs to Know series. Using a question-and-answer format, scholar Waldau guides the reader through all of the thorny elements of the animal-rights movement. A chapter covering the animals themselves, including various classifications of animals and how they are categorized, sets the stage for discussion of the philosophical, historical, and cultural arguments for animal rights that have led to the current legal protections for animals. An exploration of political realities covers all elements of this essentially human-centered subject, while social realities, education, the professions, and the arts all provide arenas for humans to look outside themselves and make informed choices. The natural and social sciences are shown to have a role in creating levels of awareness about animals. The final two chapters introduce major figures, both familiar and unfamiliar, in the animal-rights movement and examine the future for animal rights. A chronology of important events, glossary of animal-rights terminology, and suggestions for further reading complete this compact yet rich volume. --Nancy Bent

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Product Details

  • Series: What Everyone Needs to Know
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019973996X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199739967
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Waldau is an educator-scholar-activist working at the intersection of animal studies, ethics, religion, law and cultural studies. He is the Senior Faculty member at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, for the two-year on-line Master of Science program in Anthrozoology. The website for this program is

He is also currently (Spring 2014) the Bob Barker Visiting Associate Professor of Animal Law. He also teaches Harvard University's Summer Term online course "Animals: Religion and Ethics."

Paul has completed five books. Oxford University Press published his most recent book, "Animal Studies" in February 2013, as well as his fourth book, "Animal Rights," in 2011. OUP also published his first book in 2001, "The Specter of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals." In 2006, Columbia University Press published "A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics", a major edited collection done in conjunction with Professor Kimberley Patton of Harvard Divinity School. In 2008 Paul co-edited "An Elephant in the Room: The Science and Well-being of Elephants in Captivity", which was published by Tufts University's Center for Animals and Public Policy.

A former trial lawyer and partner in a major California law firm, Paul left the practice of law to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy degree at University of Oxford. He then was a post-doctoral Senior Fellow at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religion. He has also directed reading groups in animal law at Yale Law School. From 2004 through 2008 Paul was the Director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is also the President of the Religion and Animals Institute.

More details are available at and www.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lisa F. Kane on February 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Paul Waldau's book charts a broad, easy-to-follow pathway through the thorny world of animal rights. As a fellow traveler in this difficult landscape, and one singled out for some attention in the book, I am especially grateful for his effort. Waldau's smooth style, engaging voice, and deep understanding of the subject matter make his book particularly useful. He discusses many important ways by which humans define their relationship to non-human animals, including science, law and philosophy, history and culture, education and the arts. These large topics are broken down into manageable size through a series of inquiries, like: "Who, what are companion animals?" "Does animal protection occur in all cultures?" "What is happening today in animal law?". Waldau addresses each question with quiet authority, focusing the reader's attention on facts, themes and contexts necessary for a broad and balanced understanding. I believe most readers will find this to be a nourishing book, one that satisfies intellectual curiosity and enlarges the boundaries of compassion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bert on January 30, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A missed opportunity, alas. This is the fourth book I have read in Oxford's "What Everyone Needs to Know" series, and the first that I found to be less than excellent. Vague generalities abound, with very little in the way of precise, factual information. It reads as if the author has a sort of meta-interest in discourse within the world of animal welfare, but not an interest in the nuts and bolts of animal welfare per se -- an approach that might be fine in itself, but is a far cry from "What Everyone Needs to Know." My favorite part was Chapter 10, "Major Figures and Organizations in the Animal Rights Movement," precisely because the fact-to-generality ratio was highest in this chapter. But even here, generalities are, well, general. The section "A singular commitment, a controversial organization -- Ingrid Newkirk" (concerning the head of PETA) opens with "Reviled by many, idolized by many..." and repeats the word "controversial," but the nature of any controversy is not mentioned at all.

The other books I have read in the "What Everyone Needs to Know" series leave the reader with the notion (deserved, I think) that they have a solid understanding of the main issues, ideas, and events in the topic covered; not so this book. What you are more likely to leave with is the idea that humans have a long and varied history with animals, where some of the variance is cross-cultural, and that the terms "animal rights" and "animal welfare" lend themselves to varied interpretations. I am no expert in the area of animal welfare, but I think most readers will get a lot more out of Peter Singer's classic Animal Liberation, or out of the Sunstein and Nussbaum edited volume, Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions, than from this tepid book.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Croft on February 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found Animal Rights to be an absolute pleasure. I've read it twice and have thoroughly enjoyed Waldau's insightful prose on a highly convoluted issue. His writing is very easy to understand and his knowledge on the subject is unmatched. This is a great book for anyone new to the debate, but provides endless new points to ponder for those of us who have been entrenched for years. I HIGHLY recommend this work.
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By Valerie R on April 26, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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12 of 52 people found the following review helpful By John in Minnesota on March 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
I found this book interesting, but overall did not think much of it, for several unrelated reasons. First, the author didn't seem to address the important issue of what our society would be like if animals are granted rights. What would people eat in such a world? How would our relationships with pets change? How would he have society handle a violation of an animal's rights by another animal (as occurs every day in nature)? Second, he presents lots of questions, but doesn't answer many of them. For example, which animals should have which rights? He presents no answer to this. Third, the book is fairly repetitious, with many thoughts, phrases and words repeated unnecessarily. Finally, I find the idea of humans acknowledging that animals have rights to be ridiculous, and this book did nothing to convince me that I'm wrong. Humans have rights and responsibilities, and one of our responsibilities is to treat animals humanely even while we breed and raise many of them for our subsistence. I think that's what everyone needs to know.
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