Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestseller Everything Is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foreign rights to his new novel have already been sold in ten countries. The film of Everything Is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood, will be released in August 2005. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been optioned for film by Scott Rudin Productions in conjunction with Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures. Foer lives in Brooklyn, New York.
This book was a catalyst where I wasn't looking for one. After the first 35 pages a light bulb started lighting up...and I feared my life was about to change. I've never written a book review, but after reading what Jonathon learned in his 3 + years of researching factory farming, I had to tell others to read it. He provides serious, horrific and real information. I never knew about factory farming until I read his book and googled 'factory farming' on the web. It was all over from there. I started watching those videos on what we do to animals-the ones we don't want to see-and I could not stomach another bite of an animal again. I loved meat, ate it easily 3xday for all of my life, grew up near those green pastures in northern California where cows graze all day. Wow. Was I disconnected and fooled...
What I felt, was that he did not preach about not eating animals. He presented information that I could personally relate to and grasp. For me, Jonathon felt like a messenger...where many have failed to bring light to what humans are systematically doing to animals every moment of every day. He provided very important information about 99% of the animals I used to buy and eat for my family and friends. I had no idea that the US alone consumes 10 billion animals PER YEAR. I finally woke up. One chicken has 2 wings(that they never use)--how many chicken wings come in a basket at a restaurant-6? 12? 24? I used to throw meat away after getting full. I was throwing away a life-a wasted one who suffered in life and in death. What frightened me more about this book is why is an author bringing this info to me? Where are the ongoing news specials on this?
Jonathon's personal tone, statistical/historical data, research team, true accounts from the field, letters, etc.Read more ›
I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I identified with Foer as a person who really tries to eat ethically, but whose weaknesses often get the best of him. I've had strong intuitions that there is something wrong with Meat today, but, like Foer reports of his own journey, those intuitions have not been strong enough for me to really change what I eat. The woman in my life, by contrast, has been a vegetarian for over a decade and never wavers. Of the many changes I've made to accommodate our relationship, giving up meat was never one of them. I've generally let the smell of bacon silence any discomfort I had with meat. That is, until reading Eating Animals. Foer's personal narrative spoke to me more than any of the many exposes on factory farming slyly sent my way. At the same time, Eating Animals left me far more informed than I was before ... It's the standard cliché, but I really couldn't put the book down. In place of the didactic or moralistic, Foer welcomes the reader into his life and his story. Foer is his own main character, and his own self-examination inspires the same. You won't be the same after reading it.
The buzz about this book was so incredible I had to get my hands on an advanced copy. The book is like nothing else ever written on the food industry. It reads like a novel, is funny, incredibly well documented, and lets factory farmers and animal activists speak in their own words. I've read a lot of books on the food industry and this is by far the best. It makes other writers, even Michael Pollan, look a bit timid. Foer never preaches. He shares his own beliefs and asks us to live by our own standards, not his. Foer reveals a lot of personal information here and, since this is his first nonfiction book, it its especially interesting for readers of his previous books to see some of the fact behind his fiction. The material about his grandmother and how she survived the holocaust is really powerful. The stuff about his dog George (Foer makes a mock case for eating dogs) is hilarious. His storytelling is so compelling that you hardly realize how much information he's conveying (there are 60 pages of notes documenting his sources, but the text itself is uncluttered by footnotes). Another unique thing about this book is that Foer actually sneaks into a factory farm in the middle of the night... Eating Animals is a serious book that could change the way you live. But what's most impressive about it is that it is also fun to read, which is exactly what we need on a hot button topic like the contemporary food industry.
It is very hard to write a review of this book without expressing one's own view of the ethics of meat eating, as most of the reviews - and many of the comments to some of these reviews - demonstrate. In fact, it is impossible to really separate the two when discussing a book that is both so personal in its narrative, and relentlessly focused on universal eating habits. My review is no different.
Taking a stab at the book itself: I am not familiar with Foer's fictional works, but his background is evident as he lends the whole subject a compelling narrative and style that really make "Eating Animals" quite a page-turner (I read it in a day and a half). To those familiar with this debate, the statistics are not really new, nor are the horror stories of factory farming. What is new is the personalization of his approach (I too am a father and could relate to the decisions he faces), and, most effectively, his unflinching, relentless, repetitious focus on the reality of consuming 99% of the available meat today: The environmental damage, the suffering, the waste, the lies and corruption, the exploitation, the veil of secrecy amongst the industrial farming concerns. It is Foer's relentless focus of these central issues and his unwillingness to avoid the obvious question (How can it be ethical to consume meat under these conditions?) that I believe distinguish this book and make it most effective.
So what does this mean to this reviewer in terms of his personal habits? Well, I am a long-time consumer of meat. I love everything about it in terms of taste, texture, variety, preparation, culture, etc. I am a serious hobbyist-cook, and meat has played a central role in what I prepare...Read more ›