From Publishers Weekly
The horrors have been pointed out before-that factory farm chickens are genetically altered, debeaked without anesthesia, and crammed into overcrowded coops; that calves are separated from their mothers and kept in dark crates to become veal. Here Masson (Dogs Never Lie About Love) makes the case that the animals humans eat on a regular basis-pigs, chickens, sheep, cows and ducks-feel, think and suffer. Each animal gets a chapter, in which Masson interweaves folklore, science and literature (he quotes Darwin, Gandhi and the Bible) with his observations of the animals' behaviors. He relates how a pot-bellied pig saved the life of her keeper and visits Dr. Marthe Kiley-Worthington, of Little Ash Eco-Farm in England, whose cow does agility tricks; he also interviews those who raise animals for profit. But there is no subtlety in his sometimes nauseatingly Edenic anecdotes: abused animals always come around and we live happily ever after. The text is pocked with far-fetched hypotheses (e.g., "A woman coming across a young lamb in ancient times might well have nursed the lamb" to explain the domestication of sheep). Arguing that all farming of animals for food is wrong (even eggs), Masson rebuts the fallacy that farm animals would die out without us, but doesn't say how we are to make the transition. His peripatetic style lacks transitions, for example going from cock fighting, which gets only one paragraph, to meditations on why roosters crow at dawn. Despite the holes in his preachy argument, his narrative contains some solid, fascinating information on the emotional life of farm animals.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Masson is a champion of the rights of animals to live their physical and emotional lives to the full, unfettered by human demands. He has written about wild animals (When Elephants Weep, 1 995) and companion animals (The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats, 2002, Dogs Never Lie about Love,1997) and now turns his attention to the animals we raise for food. Domestic animals have been with us for roughly 10,000 years, yet they still retain the behaviors and instincts of their wild ancestors. Masson explores the emotional lives of our most common farm animals, devoting a chapter each to pigs, chickens, sheep and goats, cows, and ducks. Anecdotal stories mix with quotes from scientists, other authors' observations, and philosophical musings on the nature of each species. Masson is passionate in his beliefs, and a strong thread of animal rights runs through his entire narrative. Readers not convinced by his philosophy will learn quite a bit about the animals we mostly take for granted. A good choice for all collections. Nancy Bent
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