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The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human Hardcover – June 13, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0393070545 ISBN-10: 0393070549 Edition: 1st Printing

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st Printing edition (June 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393070549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393070545
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Pat Shipman is a respected paleoanthropologist and a superb science writer with an extraordinary reach. Until I read this book, I had not appreciated the significant impact of animals for charting the course of human evolution or the universal importance that animals have today for improving the quality of human life.” (Dean Falk, author of Finding Our Tongues)

“I read The Animal Connection with great admiration; its data-rich narrative offers profound insights about our species’ long history with other animals.” (Barbara J. King, author of Being with Animals)

“Shipman takes us on a journey through human evolution as it has never been told before. She demonstrates that humanity emerged not only through tool use and language, but because of our associations with animals. Shipman’s triumph is her demonstration that the modern human condition was borne of our personal connections with animals—from horses as transportation, to cows and sheep as food, to dogs as vigilant companions. Our achievements on two legs were made possible by our many relatives on four.” (Nina G. Jablonski, author of Skin: A Natural History)

“Pat Shipman has written one of the most important books on the human-animal connection ever. One might even say it is the single most important book, possibly the only one, to look at our deep connection to animals over the entire evolutionary history of our species. She says that animals are central to the very essence of being human and has proven this to be the case in a work of extraordinarily broad scholarship.” (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving)

“Eye-opening… a compelling argument and an exciting story. The Animal Connection goes beyond the obvious of what every pet-lover knows. It shows how we evolved and hence how and why we are unique. This is an important book. It’s a must-read.” (Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World and Mind of the Raven)

“Pat Shipman gathers together the results of many archaeological studies, and she clearly shows how animals were intimately involved in the development of early humans. Both animal lovers and readers who are interested in human psychology will not be able to put this fascinating book down.” (Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human)

About the Author

Pat Shipman is a professor of anthropology at Penn State University. Coauthor of the award-winning The Ape in the Tree, she writes for American Scientist and lives in Moncure, North Carolina.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By H. Potter on June 29, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The publisher's blurb for this book sounds as if it's about our warm, happy relationship with animals, and how this relationship has shaped our evolutionary history. However, the principle relationship discussed is predator-prey. Our tools let us kill and butcher animals more easily. Fire lets us consume them more efficiently. Language lets us hunt them better. The author spends a lot of time on stone tools and their fabrication. She discusses domestication of dogs and horses and the various speculative theories of how this happened. Only at the end does she discuss the sort of relationships we currently value with companion animals. And she laments that most people have no real experiences with nature outside the cities. They think meat is made in a factory and wrapped in plastic from the moment of its manufacture.

It's a good summary of thinking about some aspects of human evolution and prehistory, but not what you would think from the cover and the blurb.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By jjhooper on October 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In The Animal Connection, paleoanthropologist and author Pat Shipman, presents a fascinating review of human evolution from a new perspective - one that focuses on our interactions with other animal species. As Shipman points out, humans are unique among all other species in having extensive and close interactions with other animals species, such as dogs, cats, chicken, cows and horses. Why is this the case and what benefits do we derive from them? Why do we share our food and resources with these other species, especially those that we do not eat or use as beasts of burden? She hypothesizes that our "animal connection" increased over our evolutionary history, and was selected for because it contributed greatly to our evolutionary success. Her book is written chronologically, beginning some 6-7 million years ago, with the first turning point around 2.6 million years ago when our lineage seemed to transition to a more carnivorous diet. This altered our position in the ecosystem, and importantly, no longer were we just prey who had to be wary of predators, now we were predators as well, and it benefited us to observe the habits of predators even more closely.
As she describes key events in human history (tool making, language, domestication) and their relationship to the human-animal connection, she provides fascinating insights into how paleoanthropologists do their work. How do you identify a tool as opposed to an odd-shaped rock? What fossil evidence is there of the shift to a meat-eating in humans? How can you tell if an ancient antelope skeleton represents a kill done by carnivores or humans? Or if humans simply scavenged a carnivore's kill?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bruce A. Agnew on September 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fascinating, well written book blending human evolutionary history with the development of animal domestication (dogs, cats, horses) and the history of less friendly human-animal relations (lions and tigers and bears etc.). Humans are clearly the dominant species on Planet Earth, but we didn't get here on our own, and we are not alone. Shipman has much to teach us on both counts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book takes a new look at what it means to be humans, something that has always been there, our respect for animals. Perhaps we need animals to be human, to be happy. I loved reading this fantastic book.
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