From Publishers Weekly
Derr (Dogs Best Friend) takes a dogs-eye view of American history, beginning with speculations on the dogs first appearance in the Americas tens of thousands of years ago. Derr discusses the conquistadors and the use of dogs against natives, mentioning Panfilo de Narvaez and his crew, explorers who went to Florida dreaming of wealth, only to be starved out by the natives and "forced to consume many of their own dogs." While readers learn about the often grim roles of dogs in "settling" America ( used very often to hunt Native Americans, and later, slaves), few strong personalities, dog or human, emerge in this book, which sometimes reads like a chronological compendium of facts. Derr explains Washingtons remark about his "Tarrier"; follows Lewis and Clark with Seaman, the famous Newfoundland who accompanied them west, and notes that Lewis had an odd appetite for eating dog along the journey; explains how dogs were both used in and victims of the colonizing of America and during the civil rights era. He then rushes on to the next major event in American history, making little meaning out of his material. This book is nevertheless a solid history of dogs in America.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
If dogs did not come with the first people to enter North America over 10,000 years ago, then they were not far behind, and dogs have been part of the peopling of the continent ever since. Derr, writer-historian and author of a previous work on the human-dog relationship [Dog's Best Friend
(1997)], presents a history of the dog in the New World, following their changing role in human societies and their importance to the survival of those societies. Using historical records and personal accounts from people living at the time, the author presents a story that ranges from the brutal Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and South America (greatly aided by their dogs of war), the use of bloodhounds to track runaway slaves and other prisoners, and the rise of the concept of purebred dogs. In the final chapter, Derr looks at the roles that dogs play in today's society and calls for changes in how we view the place of the dog. This fascinating history is both harsh and touching. Nancy BentCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved