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The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human Hardcover – Illustrated, June 13, 2011
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― Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human
"Pat Shipman has written one of the most important books on the human-animal connection ever. One might even say it is the single most important book, possibly the only one, to look at our deep connection to animals over the entire evolutionary history of our species. She says that animals are central to the very essence of being human and has proven this to be the case in a work of extraordinarily broad scholarship."
― Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving
"Eye-opening… a compelling argument and an exciting story. The Animal Connection goes beyond the obvious of what every pet-lover knows. It shows how we evolved and hence how and why we are unique. This is an important book. It’s a must-read."
― Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World and Mind of the Raven
"I read The Animal Connection with great admiration; its data-rich narrative offers profound insights about our species’ long history with other animals."
― Barbara J. King, author of Being with Animals
"Pat Shipman is a respected paleoanthropologist and a superb science writer with an extraordinary reach. Until I read this book, I had not appreciated the significant impact of animals for charting the course of human evolution or the universal importance that animals have today for improving the quality of human life."
― Dean Falk, author of Finding Our Tongues
"Shipman takes us on a journey through human evolution as it has never been told before. She demonstrates that humanity emerged not only through tool use and language, but because of our associations with animals. Shipman’s triumph is her demonstration that the modern human condition was borne of our personal connections with animals―from horses as transportation, to cows and sheep as food, to dogs as vigilant companions. Our achievements on two legs were made possible by our many relatives on four."
― Nina G. Jablonski, author of Skin: A Natural History
About the Author
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (June 13, 2011)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393070549
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393070545
- Item Weight : 14.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,533,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The first line that made me do a double take comes four pages into the prologue: "Except in conditions of captivity, no other animal species regularly initiates long-term nurturing relationships with individuals of another species." Is that so! That is written by someone with no experience in ethology. Off the top of my head, cleaner shrimp have regular individual clients they service in a mutually beneficial relationship, which is beautifully detailed in the book What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe - a much better read.
Following this is about two hundred pages about knapping stones and how great Bonobo monkeys are. Then, the book culminates with what I think is probably it's most quintessential line on page 277: "Within this community of thinkers, scholars, and writers, I am perhaps the only one to have traced the complex relationship between animals and humans in such detail over millions of years, limning a trajectory that explains why our interactions with animals continue to affect us so deeply." Truly, we should all be grateful. Every natural history museum needs to include a diorama about this author. Without her groundbreaking work in the 1980's, we wouldn't even have paleoanthropology as a credible field.
How do you write out the thought that the pet industry in North America nets more than $41 billion dollars a year and then three pages later lament our sterile society that is losing it's connection to animals? I'm disappointed, because this is a fascinating subject that hits very close to home for me, and there was so much information that was left out in favor of tooting the author's own academic horn. So many words devoted to theorizing about this cut or that chip off of a bone without ever getting past the need to prove they're credible. But hey, at least I know she really enjoyed her vacation to see the cave paintings in Lascaux.
It's a good summary of thinking about some aspects of human evolution and prehistory, but not what you would think from the cover and the blurb.
As she describes key events in human history (tool making, language, domestication) and their relationship to the human-animal connection, she provides fascinating insights into how paleoanthropologists do their work. How do you identify a tool as opposed to an odd-shaped rock? What fossil evidence is there of the shift to a meat-eating in humans? How can you tell if an ancient antelope skeleton represents a kill done by carnivores or humans? Or if humans simply scavenged a carnivore's kill? Tool making is supposed to be unique in some way to humans, but how does our tool-making differ from that of other species such as chimps and crows? How do we know when a species was first domesticated? Shipman explores these and other key issues in our early evolution, such as fire making, language, and symbolic behavior. As she points out, animals are among the earliest objects that we modern humans can recognize in the first human art, such as in the 35,000 year-old cave paintings of France. When we look at these amazing paintings, we cannot help but be struck by their realism; the artists had a clear and intimate understanding of animal movement and anatomy, as evident in the detailed facial expressions on the lions and horses, for example. Shipman was fortunate to see some of these paintings and writes movingly about the experience.
I have read and enjoyed several of her previous books, and this is perhaps her best. It draws fully on her expertise and experience, and has a breadth and depth that would make it a great book for a college seminar or reading club. As always, her writing is enjoyable and thorough. While others before her have noted the importance of specific animals to our evolutionary success, such as the horse for transport and war, the dog as hunting companion, etc., no one has recognized as Shipman does, how unusual we are among species in the intimate nature of our relationship to other species and no one has noted the significant role it has played throughout our history. If you like animals, paleontology, archeology, and thinking about what makes us human, you will love this book.