The Authentic Animal and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$4.00
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Item qualifies for FREE shipping and Prime! This item is used.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Authentic Animal: Inside the Odd and Obsessive World of Taxidermy Hardcover – August 2, 2011


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$3.27 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

"Natural Born Heroes" by Christopher McDougall
Just as "Born to Run" inspired readers to get into the natural world, this book will inspire them to leave the gym and take their fitness routine to nature. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312643713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312643713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Don't let the gory subject matter repel you from this charming account of the cast of kings, artists, biologists, circus performers, and ordinary folks who populate the world of taxidermy. Madden's investigation is marked by appealing candor, literary references, and atmospheric descriptions of (and fondness for) the subculture and its adherents…this book muses with verve and wit on the relationships between human and animal, art and artifact, as well as on the collector's obsession.”– Publishers Weekly

Madden…investigates the subculture of taxidermy…[and] can be a bit tongue in cheek…when he wonders “what would happen if the tables were turned?” and the animals put the humans on display… [A] sometimes chilling tour of an intriguing subculture.  – Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

DAVE MADDEN is a professor at The University of Alabama. He lives in Tuscaloosa and co-edits The Cupboard, a quarterly pamphlet.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
55%
4 star
27%
3 star
0%
2 star
18%
1 star
0%
See all 11 customer reviews
Overall, a worthy read if you are interested in the subject.
KiwisGirl
I read Dan Madden's book in only a few days, despite the fact that school projects were looming, Thanksgiving was coming, there was grading to do, and all that.
Amazon Customer
For one thing, the author seems to have just taken chunks from all the Akeley books and crammed them in here with little care.
Chris B.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brent Spencer on August 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a hunter and don't have an interest in taxidermy, but the great thing about this book is the way the writer makes you care, the way he uses his subject as a way of analyzing human behavior. I had the same experience reading The Authentic Animal as I had when I read John McPhee's Oranges. Who cares about oranges? Well, McPhee makes you care. And Madden makes you care about taxidermy in this offbeat and wry commentary on what it means to be a human animal. Moving, memorable, and funny.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bozter on November 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I stumbled upon this delightful book while researching for my undergraduate thesis. Now just because I'm an Fine Art Photography major, do not think that this book has been of little use! oh no! This book was so inspirational and pivotal in my research that it truly changed the direction of my entire point of view towards animal preservation and how to make art work about it. I was once blindly disgusted by taxidermy's existence, but Dave Madden showed me a new world in his book, telling me the history of taxidermy and his own experiences with the world of taxidermy from a spectator's standpoint. The book is written in such a friendly and unusual (for the subject) manner that has the feeling of going to a cafe with a friend and engaging in a unexpectedly profound conversation.

This book is for those who know hardly anything about taxidermy to discover a world they thought they had an opinion of who seek a stepping off point for learning. This book is probably not for those who work in the taxidermy business as much as those who do not.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Br549 on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I found Madden's book to be an elegantly written book. After reading Mary Roach's STIFF: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, I crave books like this. I would place this book within the same medical/scientific non-fiction sub-genre. While Roach's voice is more personable, I find Madden's research to prove more thorough and authoritative. While it is nice to have a friend along when reading books like this, I'd much rather have a well-researched guide to lead me through the excavated exhibits of his research.

The insight into the history of taxidermy allows you to see the evolution of the art, but Madden also garnishes the book with an ethnographic exploration of this art's culture. While you get a glimpse into the techniques and media used to preserve everything from animals and humans, you also get a glimpse into the lives of those who preserve them.

I am giving this book 5 stars.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By Amazon Customer on December 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read Dan Madden's book in only a few days, despite the fact that school projects were looming, Thanksgiving was coming, there was grading to do, and all that. I brought it home, looked at the first page just out of curiosity, even though there was no time to read at the present, and before I was done reading I'd read two chapters.

The book works like an personal essay, in that it meanders through several subjects, pulling a biography, personal musings, and intelligent research into seamless chapters that are each as interesting as the next. You would think that you would get quickly bored with dead animals, but in truth the life of Carl Akeley and all who practice the art of taxidermy since are fascinating enough--through Madden's capable prose--to keep me reading nonstop the whole time.

The other great feat of Madden's book is that he is able to talk sincerely about taxidermists without belittling their art. There are many who would see the characters in the book as pursuing a hobby less noble than others, but Madden isn't content with that, and seeks to understand the art as they do, not as something on the fringe. Because of his empathy, or just good research, we see taxidermy in its noble forms, in its serious considerations, and for what it actually has to contribute to art and life.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fozwort on May 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has done a considerable amount of taxidermy and preparation/curation of museum specimens, I looked forward to this book as a treatment of the subject from a psychological perspective. While some historical background is useful, the return to Ackley again and again was annoying, since the author was obviously copying material published elsewhere. The fact that he didn't even try to make a mount seems hypocritical and his demeaning rationale doesn't ring true. I most enjoyed the discussions of novelty taxidermy and the preservation of pets. These areas would seem the best material to use in considering the psychology of people who desire such bizarre creations. I found it also bizarre that the author would try to write an entire book (with much off-topic filler and repetition) about a subject he claims to be obsessed with, yet doesn't deviate from his position as a somewhat disgusted observer.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good book, enjoyable read. I got it because I was semi-interested in taking a class in taxidermy and wanted a peek into this strange and slightly gruesome world before taking the plunge. The book provided a good overview of the history of the field and a glimpse of current trends and practices. The author asks thought provoking questions about why we engage in the activity of stuffing dead animals and makes an attempt to answer them. I wish he had spent more time delving into the current practices and applications of taxidermy and less time on rehashing history. I also wish there had been a section about fish - the author completely ignored fish mounts, choosing to spend all of his time on mammals and birds. Overall, a worthy read if you are interested in the subject. As for me, I skipped the taxidermy class after reading this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

More About the Author

Dave Madden is the author of The Authentic Animal, forthcoming from St. Martin's Press. His shorter work has appeared in The Normal School, Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, and elsewhere, and he's the recipient of the Sherwood Anderson Award in fiction, an AWP Intro Journals Award in nonfiction, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship at the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Currently, he teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco and co-edits The Cupboard, a quarterly pamphlet.