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The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century (Animals, History, Culture) Paperback – May 4, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1421400433 ISBN-10: 9781421400433 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Animals, History, Culture
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (May 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781421400433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421400433
  • ASIN: 142140043X
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

An outstanding study of a neglected topic.

(New England Quarterly)

In recent decades, such ethnic groups as Italians, African-Americans and Chinese have rightfully demanded recognition for their share in building America in the days of the Industrial Revolution. Horses clearly did as much but had no one to speak in their behalf. Now they do.

(History Wire)

Overall, McShane and Tarr have written an outstanding and highly creative book. It should interest historians of cities, the environment, economics and animals.

(Journal of Economic History)

Presents a rich and complex picture of nineteenth-century urban life. McShane and Tarr have given us a book that is simultaneously an urban social history, a social history of a technology, and an environmental history.

(Technology and Culture)

The growth and development of the 19th-century city would have been vastly different without the horse, even though the horse's role was taken for granted by city residents and ignored by historians.

(Choice)

Valuable contribution not only to urban history but also to nineteeth-century economic, business, environmental, and social history.

(Journal of Interdisciplinary History)

A brilliant account of an incredibly important but understudied topic.

(John H. Hepp, IV American Historical Review)

McShane and Tarr's book, mercifully free of academic argot, a pleasure to read and full of enjoyable and surprising revelations, is welcome. And, if you'll forgive the metaphor, it covers the ground well.

(Paul Laxton Urban History)

Their work will no doubt encourage many scholars to reevaluate what they know about the physical formation of U.S. cities and what was going on in them.

(Robert Buerglener American Quarterly)

A deeply researched exploration of the intimate relationships among horses, humans, urbanization, industrialization, and reform.

(George B. Ellenberg Agricultural History)

Taken together the horse and the growth of the city fill an interesting and useful history of America. This ride is highly recommended.

(Ray B. Browne Journal of American Culture)

A valuable addition to the growing discussion of animals in history... the reader is left with a greater appreciation of the horse as an active participant in American history.

(Marta Knight Economic History Review)

It should be required reading for anyone interested in the environmental history of urban life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

(Brian Black Environmental History)

A fascinating story of the 'Gelded' Age.

(D. Scott Molloy Journal of American History)

A fascinating account of the role of horses in shaping the economy and society of American cities during the nineteenth century that contributes greatly to the fields of urban history, environmental history, and the history of human-animal relationships.

(Susan D. Jones, author of Valuing Animals)

In this careful and richly textured book, Clay McShane and Joel Tarr have shown us how these beasts of burden helped create the modern metropolis and then disappeared from the city streets.

(Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University)

This innovative and fascinating book goes to the heart of new research that connects the human and animal worlds as never before. In presenting the horse as a ‘living machine,’ McShane and Tarr help us rethink how cities were built and how they functioned in the past.

(Martin V. Melosi, University of Houston, author of The Sanitary City and Effluent America)

From the Back Cover

Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr, prominent scholars of urban life, here explore the critical role of the horse in the growing nineteenth-century metropolis. Using diverse sources, they examine how horses were housed and fed; how workers bred, trained, marketed, and employed their four-legged assets; and how horses affected the physical form of the city.

In addition to providing an insightful account of life and work in nineteenth-century urban America, The Horse in the City brings us to a richer understanding of how the animal fared in terms of both treatment and health in this unnatural and presumably uncomfortable setting.

"Presents a rich and complex picture of nineteenth-century urban life. McShane and Tarr have given us a book that is simultaneously an urban social history, a social history of a technology, and an environmental history."— Technology and Culture

"Their work will no doubt encourage many scholars to reevaluate what they know about the physical formation of U.S. cities and what was going on in them." —American Quarterly

"A brilliant account of an incredibly important but understudied topic."— American Historical Review

"A fascinating story of the 'Gelded' Age."— Journal of American History

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jannert on February 8, 2014
Format: Paperback
I can't praise this book highly enough. It covers a subject I've not seen before as a single book, but it's SUCH a necessary thing to know, for anybody researching life in 19th century America. I am a writer, and have pretty much had to glean tidbits of this information from photos and occasional references in other books and online resources.

Not having this information would be like writing a book about the 20th-21st century and not knowing anything about cars, except that people used them to get from A to B. Where were they housed? How were they fed? (What is a petrol/gas station and how did it operate?) Where did people 'park' their cars. What were the streets like to accomodate them, etc etc.

This is the kind of thing that many contemporary writers wouldn't do more than touch on, because everybody knows about cars, right? Well, maybe another 150 years from now, we won't.

This book bridges this knowledge gap as regards horses. I have a much stronger idea of what living next to horses on a daily basis was like. Where they were housed, etc.

Fabulous. Now when are 'they' going to write as comprehensive a book about rail travel in the 19th century? How did you buy a ticket? Could you get extended returns? And the most vexing question: people who slept on the top bunk in a Pullman sleeping car ...HOW did they get up to it? Ladder? (No photo or drawing seems to show one.) And were they double beds or single beds?

This is the level of information a writer needs to know. Research can uncover so many gaps, but this book certainly fills one of them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eileen M. Claffy on August 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The authors may be scholars of American urban life, but it's clear they are not horsemen. While I found their research into the lives of horses in the cities interesting, I found some of their terminology disturbing and inaccurate. For example, at the opening of chapter six, they state, "they can consume grasses of lower quality than any other ruminant and a lower volume of food than any other large mammal." Horses are not ruminants; they are ungulates. Remove the word "other" and the sentence reads all right.

In Chapter Four, "The Horse in Leisure", the authors note a claim made Paul Shepard that "horses are inherently sensual objects because of their sleek coats and body curves and because of the genital stimulation experienced when riding". If Mr Shepard experiences genital stimulation while riding, he's doing it wrong. I would, however, agree that horse's sleek coats and curves are most attractive.

It's a good read for anyone who wants to know how horses contributed to the development of the big cities, particularly the East Coast and Chicago. I had no idea that Chicago was such a hub of horse dealing,

The development of bigger and better horse-drawn farm equipment was fascinating, as was the evolution of transportation in the city. I wish the authors had gone into more detail about some other horse-drawn machines, such as the "horse whim" on the front cover. More photographs of these amazing contraptions would have been welcome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By 5/0 on August 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`The Horse in the City" by Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr

This is a scholarly and interesting examination of the era when horses were the primary source of power - the "prime movers" - in our largest cities. It shows how The Horse worked itself out of its' roles and impacts in the cities in the span of less than a century. ... from shortly before the Civil War to shortly after WW I. There are plenty of dark sides to this tale.
We have long referred positively to "The Industrial Revolution"
and the "Modernization" of that era. This treatise will give the reader pause on that score. Our Civil War didn't bring racial equality and WW I didn't end all wars. Neither did "The Industrial Revolution" make our alabaster cities gleam. In Reality, they looked and seemed much more like the squalor of our (in)famous Indian Reservations. But then, The Industrial Revolution, the Modernization, perhaps more accurately named "The Dehumnization" , needed cheap, disposable power, and horses and immigrants, "voluntary", or not, filled the bill and we needed to put them somewhere.
Though not a happy tale it is well worth reading on several counts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Helmer Chris Nerland on December 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For a student of the horse and its place in society, this book pulled from many resources to form a picture of our cities and mans relation with the horse up through the beginning of the last century. It is ironic that the horse was cared fot the best he had ever been just as the internal combusion engine appeared to change society forever.

It was difficult to read the passages detailing the way in which the horse was commodified, purchased, used up and then discarded, but the beginnings of the various societes for prevention of cruelty were spurred by the terrible conditions under which horses labored.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Merhige on February 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Horses were so much more than mounts for cowboys and indians. This book tells the story. Great history.
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