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Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel Paperback – July 12, 2016
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“Dr. Safina is a terrific writer, majestic and puckish in equal measure, with a contagious enthusiasm...Dr. Safina draws out haunting resonances between animal lives and our own... [Beyond Words] carries pleasing echoes of the poet Gary Snyder...Captivating.” ―Gregory Cowles, The New York Times (Science)
“Once in a long while, a book is published that felicitously combines lambent writing with dazzling facts, while also illuminating our knowledge of significant and engaging subjects. Beyond Words by Carl Safina, a scientist who has won a MacArthur Fellowship and a Lannan Literary Award, is one of these exemplary books.
” ―Susan Sheehan, Washington Post
“Brilliant... an unprecedented exploration of animals and...makes intimate these wild animals in vivid family portraits...each of Safina's beautifully limned animal portraits is the weight of human influence, and a challenge to exercise the power of empathy... [Safina] is a font of research, his wonder contagious.” ―Elle
“A beautifully written, provocative case for seeing animals through their eyes.” ―Discover Magazine
“Captivating...A profound, scientifically based appeal for recognition of the kinship of all living things.” ―Kirkus, starred review
“...Excellent... compelling... brings forth powerful and illuminating insight into the unique personalities of animals...Wise, passionate, and eye-opening at every turn, Beyond Words is ultimately a graceful examination of humanity's place in the world... Dr. Safina's book truly is a gem -- extremely thoughtful and important and most timely...
” ―Psychology Today
“Safina's engaging writing takes readers along on his journey, so that we learn about these creatures as he does... The result is a meandering, entertaining tour of the animal kingdom, with pit stops for both amusing anecdotes and the latest scientific studies of animal behavior...entertaining and informative...” ―Slate
“In this mind-bending book, Safina takes the reader along with him on his adventures, enlightening and educating at each of his stops.” ―Publishers Weekly
“This well-researched book is a fascinating and thought-provoking investigation of different ways of viewing non-human creatures and their inner lives.” ―Library Journal
“Carl Safina shows there is indeed intelligent life in the universe, and it's all around us. At once moving and surprising, Beyond Words asks us to reexamine our relationship to other species-and to ourselves.” ―Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction
“This book breathes love of and respect for animals and is rich with observations and extraordinary travel experiences. It is a delightful and enlightening account of both how we relate to them and how they relate to each other.” ―Frans de Waal, author of The Bonobo and the Atheist
“Safina offers a rich and often heart-touching account of his journeys with scientists exploring the minds and emotions of elephants, wolves, and dolphins. His compassion and empathy for animals shines throughout, and he uses both to illuminate the booming field of animal cognition. A beautifully written, accessible, and compelling read.” ―Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise: How We Know Animals Think and Feel
“Carl Safina's books contain a crucial jewel that refracts the experience of nature in a new and truthful way. In this emotional and scientific adventure, Safina somehow manages to produce a view of animal intelligence that is genuinely new, and truly enlightening.” ―Paul Greenberg, author of American Catch and Four Fish
“Beyond Words is a must-read. Animals think, mourn, dream, make plans, and communicate complex messages in much the same way that we do. Readers who knew this already will rejoice, others will learn the truth, and the more of us who capture the message, the sooner we will change the world.” ―Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs
“Beyond Words is a great read, seamlessly weaving scientific data with wonderful stories. People will feel 'rewilded' and motivated to do more on behalf of the innumerable animals who need our help. By expanding our compassion footprint we not only help other animals but also ourselves.” ―Marc Bekoff, author of Rewilding Our Hearts and The Emotional Lives of Animals
“Beyond Words is such a beautiful book, deep and tender, and will make you stay up all night reading. Carl Safina has a rare gift for imparting scientific insight with a storyteller's grace, and he writes with great knowledge and compassion. This vivid, far-ranging, and compassionate work is destined to become a classic.” ―Luanne Rice, author of The Lemon Orchard and Beach Girls
About the Author
Carl Safina's work has been recognized with MacArthur, Pew, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and his writing has won Orion, Lannan, and National Academies literary awards and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. He has a PhD in ecology from Rutgers University.
Safina is the inaugural holder of the endowed chair for nature and humanity at Stony Brook University, where he co-chairs the steering committee of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and is founding president of the not-for-profit Safina Center. He hosted the 10-part PBS series Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina. His writing appears in The New York Times, National Geographic, Audubon, Orion, and other periodicals and on the Web at National Geographic News and Views, Huffington Post, and CNN.com.
Carl's books include Voyage of the Turtle, Becoming Wild, and The View from Lazy Point.
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Paperback : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781250094599
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250094599
- Product Dimensions : 5.71 x 0.9 x 8.24 inches
- Publisher : Picador; Reprint Edition (July 12, 2016)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1250094593
- Best Sellers Rank: #35,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Carl Safina’s Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel suggests that we have been asking the wrong questions about animal intelligence. From our human-centric perspective, we have asked: How are other animals are like us? Safina, award winning author and ecologist, has travelled extensively to observe animal behaviors in the wild. In this book, he focuses on elephants in Kenya, wolves in parts of the United States and Canada, before moving on in section three to articulate a concise and stirringly poetic argument for animal intelligence beyond our current understanding. In Kenya, an awe-inspiring range of complex elephant behaviors, relationships and communication inspired him to ask, rather: What are they like? What do they feel? What is it like to be them? What do they mean when they communicate? He argues that without a sense humility and curious kinship with other beings, we have no access to what he so powerfully describes as a word that “sparkles with silent sentiments,” much of it beyond our human range of detection.
In section three, Safina outlines some of his pet peeves about current research and methodology, leading him to ask, “Could there really be just one intelligence among us or among species?” (p. 340) In other words, if we can’t even define human intelligence, how can we propose to reduce animal intelligence to a standard series of tests? Ever since Descartes denied the sentience of other beings, objective empiricism insisted that we resist anthropomorphism so devotedly that science has ignored what is most obvious; animals think, feel, love, grieve, mourn, celebrate, play, and suffer, not as we do, but more importantly, in their own way. They are individuals with personalities just as humans are individuals with personalities.
Safina points to our sharp scientific division between human brains and other brains as our great hubristic folly. He explains that just as we are closely related to animals physically, we can also assume we are related to them mentally. We are conscious by virtue of the same complex processes, and we are all, as he puts it, on one vast “continuum.” He elaborates on how closely related we are to other animals; that our sentience is part of that continuous family of diverse forms of sentience.
Safina concludes his wonderful book with an admission to previously thinking that people who spoke of dogs or other animals as “family” or “friends” as silly. He explains that after years of research and experience with many animals, he feels it would be “silly not to.” His book is one of a very few that truly recognize our planet’s diverse life as a continuous, sentient whole. He offers this perspective not by way of abstraction, but through years of research, relationships, and living in the field seeking to understand that many animals, such as elephants and wolves form complex bonds and social relationships, communicate in a sensory range we cannot even perceive. They can be silly, grieve and celebrate, and love with a depth that we cannot begin to truly fathom. Safina’s thorough and skillfully crafted book invites us on a journey into the world of elephant, wolf, whale, and other animal experiences, compelling us to understand them on their own terms, as selves with meaningful lives that matter as much as human lives do.
My own experience as an environmental educator confirms for me how crucial it is that Safina tells his enlightening and poignant stories. Unless humanity grows out of its human exceptionalism and awakens to the sentience and intelligence of other species, we will never become as intelligent a species as we could be, and we will continue to make the same destructive mistakes. Safina’s epilogue holds this sage warning, “Understanding other animals is not a boutique endeavor. Failure will speed their end and a bankrupting of our world.” (p. 411). Truer words were never spoken.
I have read a lot about elephants and I still learned an immense amount from this detail and compelling account. I knew only a little about wolves and was chilled to find out how much their family groups and their dynamics match that of humans. Plus, killer whales? It stuns me to the core what is being done to these highly sentient mammals. I can't stop thinking about this book.
A monumentally important book. Humanity is only as good as the level of kindness it shows to animals. At this point, humanity is failing dramatically.