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The Holocaust & the Henmaid's Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities Paperback – July 31, 2005

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About the Author

Karen Davis, Ph.D. is the President of United Poultry Concerns. She is the author of Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry. She lives in Machipongo, Virginia.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 133 pages
  • Publisher: Lantern Books (July 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590560914
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590560914
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,306,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

KAREN DAVIS, PhD is the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. Founded in 1990, United Poultry Concerns addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in food production, science, education, entertainment, and human companionship situations. Karen has a PhD in English from the University of Maryland-College Park where she taught for twelve years in the English Department.

Karen Davis has essays in Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations (Duke UP, 1995), Terrorists or Freedom Fighters: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (Lantern Books, 2004), Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Studies Journal Vol. 2, No. 2 (Center on Animal Liberation Affairs, 2005), and Encyclopedia of Animals and Humans (Greenwood, 2007). Her essay 'Procrustean Solutions to Animal Identity and Welfare Problems' is forthcoming in a collection published by SUNY Press.

At the University of Maryland Karen founded the Animal Rights Coalition in 1989, and she pioneered a course on the role of animals in the Western philosophic and literary tradition in the University of Maryland Honors Program. Karen is a featured speaker at the annual National Animal Rights and Taking Action for Animals conferences in Washington, DC and Los Angeles. On July 2, 2002, Karen was inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame 'for outstanding contributions to animal liberation.'

On November 14, 1999, Karen Davis was profiled in 'For the Birds,' in The Washington Post, winner of the 1999 Ark Trust Genesis Award for Outstanding Newspaper Feature for 1999 (

On November 14, 2000, Karen and United Poultry Concerns were featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Primetime TV show Witness, in 'Chickens are People Too,' produced by the Emmy-winning filmmaker, John Kastner. In 2002 Karen gave a presentation on 'The Beauty, Dignity & Abuse of Chickens' at the Yale University Chicken Conference, May 17-19.

On April 20, 2007, media celebrity Ira Glass, host of the popular Public Radio International program This American Life aired on NPR, appeared on Late Night with David Letterman where he told Letterman and millions of viewers that his visit to United Poultry Concerns' chicken sanctuary in 1998 led him to become a vegetarian. Karen Davis and UPC's sanctuary are currently featured in two major films on DVD: The Emotional World of Farm Animals narrated by Jeffrey Masson & frequently aired on NPR; and Animal People: The Humane Movement in America produced by Gary Kaskel and United Action for Animals in 2007.

Since 1999, Karen and UPC have hosted eight annual conferences on farmed animal advocacy issues. March 24-25, 2007. In March 2008, Karen and UPC hosted a conference on farmed animal and vegetarian advocacy issues in Virginia.

Karen is the author of several books including A Home for Henny (a children's book published by UPC); Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey: A Poultryless 'Poultry' Potpourri (a cookbook published by the Book Publishing Co.); Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry (Book Publishing Co.); More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality (Lantern Books); and The Holocaust and the Henmaid's Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities (Lantern Books). The New Revised Edition of Karen's landmark book Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs will be out in 2009.

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Norm Phelps on October 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Speaking of the Unspeakable

Founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, Karen Davis has played the major role in taking domestic fowl - the most abused and violated animals in America - from the neglected margins of the animal protection movement to their present status as a central focus of campaigns against factory farming. Her books, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs and More than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality are the standard animal rights works on domestic fowl.

Her newest book, The Holocaust and the Henmaid's Tale, is an invaluable contribution to one of the most contentious debates plaguing the animal rights community. But to understand why, we have to make a quick trip back in time.

A Holocaust: It's What's for Dinner

Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Jewish refugee from Hitler's Europe whose haunting novels and stories form an extended meditation on the Holocaust. In one of those stories, "The Letter Writer," the protagonist observes that "In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka."

In 2002, holocaust historian Charles Patterson picked up on Singer's theme. Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust argued that morally, psychologically, and logistically our imprisonment and murder of animals is equivalent to the Nazis' treatment of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other victims of their blandly efficient murder machine.

In 2003, PETA launched a traveling display inspired by Patterson's book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marc Bekoff on October 11, 2006
Format: Paperback

Karen Davis' short, intellectually rigorous, historical, sociocultural, and imminently readable book is a **must** read. Davis is an excellent writer with years of personal experience working for all sorts of animals who find themselves in factory farms and feedlots, and her message is clear and convincing - there are striking parallels between the interminable and inexcusable suffering we bring to billions of food animal beings each year and the treatment of human beings during the holocaust. While it may move some - perhaps most - readers outside of their comfort zones, this is good and necessary for stimulating us all to act more strongly on behalf of all animals who suffer innumerable disturbing and unspeakable atrocities at out hands. And, nowhere are these atrocities more apparent and "in our face" than in slaughterhouses and factory farms which are truly prisons of torture where animals interminably suffer and die and also see, hear, and smell the senseless and ruthless pain, suffering, and death of others, often family members and other friends. One doesn't have to be sentimental to "feel" for food animals, for there are plenty of scientific data that support that claim that they are sentient beings who have preferences and a point of view on what is happening to them and to their friends. Their emotional lives aren't secret, private, or hidden, they're public. Animals tell us clearly what they're feeling and we must not deny what is so very obvious.

Let me emphasize that Karen Davis' book isn't just another Holocaust book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. J. M. Masson on September 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
La Rouchefoucauld once quipped that "we all have an infinite capacity to endure the suffering of others." Nowhere does this apply with greater accuracy than in the case of those animals farmed for food.

Karen Davis has written a profound book and I challenge you to read it without being transformed. It stems from a famous comment by the Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer that when it comes to animals "all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka." Karen Davis who has a reputation among those interested in animals for a ferocious and unyielding intellect applies it here with ruthless efficiency. She tells us how in the 1960s she was preoccupied with reports of the concentration camps, with the Civil Rights Movement, and a "radical extension of those perceptions to include the largest class of innocent victims on earth." Animals slaughtered for food, and especially chickens who are slaughtered or otherwise exploited (for their eggs) to the tune of 8 billion a year in the U.S. alone.

Are you offended by the comparison with the holocaust? You shouldn't be, and if you read this book, I promise you will see her point, and realize that most of us have engaged in "an arbitrary delimiting of moral boundaries." Why? Because we have been "socialized not to perceive animals, especially `food' animals as individuals with feelings." Read chapter three of this short book (which I read in a single sitting), the life of a single battery hen, in which she demonstrates with deep insight that "there is nothing in the natural evolution of hens to prepare them for this situation." Your eyes will be opened, for that situation is hell on earth for chickens.
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