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The Monkey Wars

4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195101096
ISBN-10: 019510109X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scientists who use monkeys and other animals in biomedical research face mounting opposition from animal-rights advocates. Basing this detailed report largely on interviews, Blum, a journalist at the Sacramento Bee in California who won a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles that inspired this middle-of-the-road book, accuses both sides of caricaturing their opponents as fanatics. Striving for evenhandedness, she seeks compromise and negotiation, perhaps best exemplified by Jan Moor-Jankowski. Director of the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Sterling Forest, N.Y., Moor-Jankowski listens to animal-rights activists and incorporates some of their criticisms into his methodology. We also meet Christine Stevens of the Washington, D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute; outspoken Alex Pacheco of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; and Peter Gerone, crusader for animal research and director of Tulane's Primate Research Center. Blum credits the animal-rights movement with holding researchers to a standard of compassion and changing the way scientists think about the use of animals.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The use of animals in biomedical research has long been controversial. We want to reap the benefits of medical knowledge that can only be gained through research, but we don't like to think of animals being made to suffer. Blum, a California journalist who won a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for the series of articles that inspired this book, does a good job of presenting both sides of the issue in this discussion of primate research. She respects the value of scientific research while sympathizing with those concerned with the welfare of the animals. Traveling to primate research facilities across the country, Blum introduces us to the best-known primate researchers and their projects. She shows that primates are amazingly similar to humans in their capacity to learn, reason, and form relationships. Recognizing that animal research is a complex issue, Blum allows readers to draw their own conclusions. This thought-provoking work is recommended for animal rights and animal research collections.
Deborah Emerson, Monroe Community Coll. Lib., Rochester, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019510109X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195101096
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Deborah Blum has always considered herself a southerner, although she has no real Southern accent and was born in Illinois (Urbana, 1954). Still, her parents moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana when she was two, and to Athens, Georgia, when she was twelve. And she has always believed that the Southern culture of story-telling had a real influence on the way she uses narrative in writing about science.
After high school, Blum received a journalism degree from the University of Georgia in 1976, with a double minor in anthropology and political science. She worked for two newspapers in Georgia and one in Florida (St. Petersburg Times) before deciding to become a science writer and going to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. A University of Wisconsin fellow, she received her degree in 1982 and moved to California to work for McClatchy newspapers, first in Fresno and then in Sacramento. During her 13 years, at The Sacramento Bee, she won numerous awards for her work, culminating in the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in beat reporting for a series investigating ethical issues in primate research.
The series became her first book, The Monkey Wars (Oxford, 1994), which was named a Library Journal Best Sci-Tech book of the year. Three years later, she published Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women (Viking, 1997), which was named a New York Times Notable Book. Her 2002 book, Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection, (Perseus Books) was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She followed that with Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death (Penguin Press, 2006). Her latest book, The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, will be published in February 2010.
Blum is also the co-editor of a widely used guide to science writing, A Field Guide for Science Writers (Oxford, 2006). She is currently the Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches science journalism, creative-non-fiction, magazine writing and investigative reporting. A past-president of the National Association of Science Writers, she currently serves as the North American board member to the World Federation of Science Journalists. She also sits on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and on the board of trustees for the Society for Society and the Public.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Overall, an excellent book. I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. My only complaint is that the author might a bit too uncritically accept vivisectors' claims about the human payoffs of their research. Near the end she does briefly discuss some of the failures of animal research and the cost that has been paid in terms of human suffering and death, but much of her earlier discussion is not informated by the latter.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an invaluable learning tool and reference source for anyone interested in helping primates used in research,or hoping to eventually eliminate their use. Blum makes it clear that not all primate researchers are monsters (though some are!) and that vilification of, rather than communicaton with "the other side" can hinder progress towards a kinder medical world.
I write from an animal advocacy perspective. I believe, however, that Blum makes a similar point to those who support research - she helps to dispel the myth that all animal advocates are unreasonable fanatics.
Yes, her book was hard to read in one or two places; I found the descriptions of repetitive, superfluous, studies on infant abuse particularly upsetting. But they are important for animal advocates to know about. For the most part, however, The Monkey Wars read like a fascinating scientific novel. I couldn't put it down.
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Format: Hardcover
Whatever side of the vivisection debate you are on, this book is worth reading and paying attention to. "The Monkey Wars" calls attention to the need for discussion and understanding between researchers and animal-rights activists - something that is rarely happening. Intolerance, she shows, is leading to much suffering - both human and animal - and it is rife among both communities.
The idea that scientists who experiment on animals are all foaming-at-the-mouth maniacs, cackling and eager to cause suffering with their array of sharp instruments may occasionally be nearly true (see the sections on Harry Harlow). But Blum's book says that the majority of vivisectionists are dedicated to working for the good of people - at the cost of other animals (in this case, non-human primates). They believe this is fully acceptable - humans take priority and we must do what we can to help our own. Here lies the real debate - what gives us the right to inflict this suffering on these animals for the 'good' of mankind? What makes it acceptable? And how much good does it really do us, anyway?
Animal rights activists generally think it's NOT accaptable, and many doubt that much of it has any merit after all (see the chapter on baboon-human organ transplants). They (we) have a horrible reputation amongst researchers, so much so that at the first mention of 'animal rights' causes many of these people to close their ears and eyes and hum a silly tune until it's all over. While there HAVE been cases of pointless destruction and horrible threats to researchers in 'defense' of lab animals, the majority of animal activists are peaceful, reasonable people who want to ease suffering - including that of humans - not cause more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Astonishing revelations about classic psychology experimentation.
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