From Publishers Weekly
According to this friendly but uncompromising manifesto, "being kind" and "avoiding cruelty" to animals is not enough. Regan proscribes instead a strict regime of "animal rights," forbidding any exploitation of animals whatsoever-for food, clothing, entertainment or even medical research of great benefit to humans. Regan, a leading philosopher in the animal rights movement, intends the book as a popular companion to his scholarly treatments of the subject. Animal rights activists are, he asserts, "Norman Rockwell Americans," not violent zealots, and while he describes a number of animal rights conversion experiences ("nothing else existed, just the elephant's gaze...looking through him"), his target audience is the unpersuaded "muddler" who needs step-by-step convincing to follow this path. He argues that all animals capable of caring about what happens to them-mammals, birds and (maybe) fish-are "subjects-of-a-life" and therefore on an equal moral footing with humans. The philosophical underpinnings of Regan's analysis are not overly rigorous, his treatment of counter arguments is sometimes impatient and exasperated, and his sentimentalization of animals ("our culture teaches us not to see hens like Penny and Sweet Pea as distinct individuals") can seem cloying. The real force of his appeal comes from his exposés of the heinous cruelty meted out to animals in factory farms, mink ranches, hunting preserves, dolphin shows (they're not having fun, they're desperate for fish) and research labs. Outrage sometimes gets the better of him ("is there no limit to the depths of betrayal to which we humans can sink?"), but many readers will experience equally visceral reactions.
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Tom Regan's Empty Cages
is a powerful call for justice on one of the most urgent issues human society faces. Calmly, lucidly, he asks readers to confront the miserable conditions we have inflicted on animals—not only in the familiar cases of factory farming, product testing, and hunting, but in less well-documented areas such as greyhound racing and circus performance. Answering the charge that advocates for animal rights are crazy extremists, he shows convincingly that they are, instead, thoughtful people who follow an argument to its logical conclusion. The reader has three choices: find a flaw in the argument, work for change, or throw the book away and try to forget it. The indelible force of Regan's argument makes the third course very difficult. (Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago)Empty Cages
will do for the animal rights movement what Silent Spring
did for the environmental movement. (Howard Lyman, author of Mad Cowboy)
"If you are only going to read one book about animal rights, this is the one to read." (Ray Greek, M.D., co-author of Specious Science)
Tom Regan delivers a searing indictment of the way we treat animals in the world we have made for ourselves, and presents a trenchant case that animals have or should have rights in the same way that human beings have. (J. M. Coetzee, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature)
The book you are holding in your hands is, in my estimation, the single best introduction to the topic of animal rights ever written. (Jeffery Moussaieff Masson)
Every veterinarian should read Tom Regan's Empty Cages
, and every student of veterinary medicine should be required to read it. This book is important to the future integrity of our profession." (Jean Greek, DVM, DACVD, co-author of Specious Science)
Every so often a book is written that is destined to change the way people think. Tom Regan has written just such a book. Empty Cages is compelling because it is logical, rational, and written in an elegantly simple style. It will educate and sadden you, and make you angry, but never is it inflammatory. Reading it may not convert you into an animal rights advocate, at least not immediately, but it will most definitely give you an understanding of and sympathy for the movement. And all animals, everywhere, will benefit. Please buy this book, read it, and tell your friends about it. Everyone needs a copy on their bookshelf. (Jane Goodall)
Tom Regan is the Tom Paine of animal rights, the rational visionary who, while passionately defending the rights of man, no less passionately defends the rights of animals. His contributions are historically unprecedented. The animal rights movement may have evolved from the humane feelings of compassion and mercy. In Tom Regan, it has found the voice of reason. (Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)
Empty Cages is a long-awaited and much-welcomed personal and heartfelt book written by the 'dean' of the modern animal rights movement. Covering a broad range of important topics in an easy-to-read style, Tom Regan dispenses with misleading stereotypes about animal advocates and shows how nonsensical it is to label those who work on behalf of animals as 'radicals' or 'extremists.' . . . Empty Cages is a must-read and deserves the widest of audiences. (Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, Boulder)
Animal factory farmers hide behind such phrases as 'humane treatment' and 'responsible care.' Tom Regan gently but honestly takes you into the hog and chicken barns, onto the cattle feedlots; after that, it is up to you. This thoughtful book deserves a wide readership. (Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and author of Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry (2000))
The major animal user industries and governments throughout the world say they treat animals 'humanely.' Empty Cages exposes the myth. Compassionate people will be outraged when they read about the mind-numbing cruelty inflicted upon our fellow creatures. The challenge of animal rights is simple: Treat other animals with the same respect that we would treat one another—a truly revolutionary idea. (Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Biotech Century and Beyond Beef)
Tom Regan's Empty Cages is for everyone who cares about animals: It will inform those new to animal advocacy, inspire those already on the front lines, and empower both. This book will define the future vitality and growth of the animal rights movement for generations to come. If you want the full story about animal rights, you must read Empty Cages. (Kim Stallwood, president, Institute for Animals and Society)
In a world where exploitation of other species has become mechanized and institutionalized, the animals need a spokesman. That voice belongs to Tom Regan, whose Empty Cages is a clearly written, eloquent argument in favor of compassion for the beings with which we share the planet. Far from a polemic, it's an appeal to reason. Like Matthew Scully's Dominion, the book is both a personal story of Regan's own evolution to animal rights and a ringing critique of the casual cruelty that has come to inform our daily lives. Read this book and you'll think twice about eating meat, watching a circus, wearing fur or supporting animal-based research. (Jim Motavalli, editor, E: The Environmental Magazine)
All who care for animals, and those who see animal rights advocacy as misanthropic extremism should read this book. It is a rude awakening—and a clarion call—exposing the sham of 'humane standards' and the lie of 'unavoidable necessity' touted by the industries of cruel animal exploitation. Tom Regan argues with logic and compassion why such outrageous mistreatment must be abolished for the good of all. (Michael W. Fox, veterinarian, author, and syndicated columnist)
Tom Regan is a brilliant visionary. His new book, Empty Cages, debunks myths and exposes unscrupulous practices hidden from public view. People who are willing to 'question authority' need to read this original, illuminating, and thorough examination of the case for animal rights. (Neal Barnard, M.D., president, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
This is the book that will inspire the next wave of animal rights activism. And the next wave after that one. (Gary Kowalski, author, The Bible According to Noah and Science and the Search for God)
Empty Cages is among the most important books ever written on the great subject of how we humans treat and relate to animals. A rare and special book that can help us to awaken to our humanity. (John Robbins, author of Diet For A New America and The Food Revolution)
[This book] is an invaluable introduction to a critical re-examination of our relationship to animals. It deserves to be widely read. (New Scientist)
Empty Cages' greatest contribution is the frank assessment of the current state of the movement and the blueprint for 'Moving Forward.' . . . Empty Cages was also an enjoyable read. (Robert Leonard The American Vegan)
Of value to everyone. (Vegnews)
Professor Regan's book is like no other. It has all the virtues of good philosophy, but is unique in that it tells the story of how he began to see that respect for animals requires vegetarianism.
Empty Cages is an excellent introduction for newcomers to the world of animal rights. (Animal Guardian)
"This book is persuasive." (M.L. The Environmental Magazine)