Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Committed: A Rabble-Rouser's Memoir Paperback – February 5, 2008
From Publishers Weekly
Having grown up poor and gay, with a penchant for punk rock and Lawrence Welk, Mathews, who is now campaign chief for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had a rough start. But his camp, cosmopolitan and crass memoir is like a life lesson from the Island of Misfit Toys: a study of the unwitting heroism and adventures of an outsider dedicated to a cause. Less a treatise than a picaresque tale, his book wouldn't be complete without a bit of persuasion, whether detailing the horrors of the fur industry, factory farming or animal experimentation. But he's as willing to make fun of himself as he is of his many targets—including Vogue editor Anna Wintour (who, he says, "looks as if she has constant, painful gas") and deli-meat–hurling Iowan children. Then again, this is a man who dresses up regularly in a carrot costume. Aided by humor, luck and friends like Pamela Anderson and Morrissey, Mathews makes clear there is savvy to his controversial methods. "The flair you bring to a protest is as important as the issues themselves—if you want to reach beyond the small core of whoever might care about an issue." Those at odds with Mathews's ideals are bound to find him irritating, but open-minded readers will discover a charming polemicist. (Apr. 17)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Animal rights activist Mathews is the exuberant mastermind behind many of the audacious, headline-grabbing protests that have made PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) such an effective and controversial organization. And just as PETA's approach to raising awareness of scientific, agricultural, and industrial cruelty toward animals involves strategic high jinks, saucy irreverence, and shock tactics, Mathews, an "agitator by nature," mixes outrageous humor with dishy anecdotes and searing revelations to create a wildly entertaining memoir and a spirited overview of a serious social issue. Openly gay and steeled by the bullying he endured as a boy, Mathews has always felt empathy for animals. Initially a receptionist for PETA in 1985, he proved to be an outside-the-box thinker and daredevil protestor, possessed of as much charm as daring and, at six foot five, impressive good looks. Mathews has enlisted the likes of rockers Morrissey and Chrissie Hynde and sex symbol Pamela Anderson in the cause, and he has advocated and been arrested all over world. The force of his convictions and his love of life electrify every page. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Committed is a delicious read, easy to digest with plenty of juicy nuggets, and a flavor that will linger in your gut as well as your mind. Told with an unbridled exuberance and a shameless animal magnetism, the book artfully assembles the jigsaw puzzle pieces that have naturally transformed a shy and ridiculed boy into literally the world's greatest stuntman.
From a mystery-shrouded meeting at the Vatican, to the raucous and raunchy Kid Rock's invitation to dance with him at a fancy Vienna ball, Mathews gaily takes us on a swashbuckling journey of heart, soul, courage, humor, creativity and cosmic karma. This globe-trotting veggie-bound vagabond takes the reader on a light-hearted journey that will leave you feeling the heart - and seeing the light.
Mathews doesn't apologize for his tactics; he has no need to. A Harvard case study proved that straight information is ignored, while sensationalism makes the nightly news. In our MTV sound-bite culture, Dan has found the recipe for getting the message heard - and acted upon. His personality and sincerity converted fashion icon Calvin Klein from a victim of Mathews' vandalism into a socializing buddy who has sworn off selling fur. Getting the message heard is sometimes the hardest part.
Dan uses wit and W.I.T. (whatever it takes) to get PETA's message heard, with some amazing results. Between his "800 pound gorilla" tactics and some fortuitous timing, he has made great strides both in the US and abroad, making conditions better for living creatures with four legs - and with two. He's a protector of all beings, a champion of fruits and vegetables with a paradigm-shifting sense of humor.
His compassion is both contagious and courageous. Here's the straight truth - few heterosexual men have the cajones of this homo-genius. And fewer still have the audacity and the ability to turn adversaries into allies. He's got the ingredients of a true hero - along with a life-sized sprinkling of pixie dust.
In a world where animals have become just so much collateral damage of our often self-destructive lifestyle choices, Dan Mathews has plenty of hard-won and bankable collateral for balancing the scales. For those floundering in a sea of moralistic hypocrisy and uncertainty, he flings a literary lifesaver, with a vibrant and inviting "Bite me - you'll be glad you did."
Committed is a gourmet dish for the humor, the heart, and the soul. It's a timely treatise (and treat) that reveals a great deal about the animal rights movement, and about our culture. And it's the unsweetened account of a true warrior in the movement, one with the battle scars to prove it. For sentient beings of all types, Dan would recommend "Live `til you're dead". This book will convince you that in an
hour-by-our world, Dan Mathews is truly an "every-single-minute man."
The next stop is Des Moines, Iowa. Here Chris P. Carrot has it much worse. He is greeted with people waving hamburgers in his facing shouting "Moo!" and then has lunch meat thrown at him by children that were encouraged by men from the Iowa Pork Producers Association. All of the disrespect and tormenting was not for nothing. Despite things going as planned, the group was still able to at least try and inform children about the truth of what happens to animals meant for meat or milk production. The man in the carrot costume is Dan Mathews. This little escapade was nothing unusual for Mathews. His entire life revolves around doing whatever he can to educate the public about what horrible things animals go through and to promote animal rights (Mathews, Committed). Dan Mathews' Committed: A Rabble-Rouser's Memoir (Atria Books, 2007, 253 pgs.) gives readers an insider's view of an animal activist's work, teaching them to stand by their convictions, even when they're constantly faced by challenges.
Mathews has devoted most of his life to promote animal rights. He was born on October 25, 1964 in southern California. Mathews started helping animals at a young age, when his family started taking in stray animals around his neighborhood. At the age of 16, he started calling himself an animal activist after listening to the song Skin by Siouxsie, which mocked animal fur wearers. This song led Mathews to inquire about animal activist groups. Mathews continued to educated himself about animal rights. His life forever was changed in 1985 when he decided to step up and really take on a position as an animal activist by taking a job at a newly formed activist group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Twenty-four years later and Mathews is still working for PETA, now as vice-president of campaigns. Though this is his first book, he had done so much work in trying to help animals.
The memoir, Committed, shows what it is like growing up as a vegetarian and standing by your convictions to the point of spending your entire life trying to make even a small difference. Mathews was a young, overweight, gay child who was picked on and bullied for being different. Upon going fishing and seeing a fish struggle for air in his boat he made a connection with that fish that would forever change his life. He grew up feeling just like that fish, helpless. From that point on Mathews made a vow to never again eat another animal. That was only the beginning of a life-long journey to fight for animals. Just after graduated from college at the age of twenty, Mathews decided to make a change in his life, saying "eventually, I came to think that if I found myself instinctively proclaiming I was an animal activist, maybe I should be more than an occasional volunteer" (75). Mathews accepted a receptionist job at PETA and over the years, as he began doing more and more protests and campaigns, he evolved into the vice-president of campaigns, which is still his job today. Sarah Peasley from Rocky Mountain News thinks that the memoir is "briskly paced, funny and self-deprecating... it is introspective and informative without being preachy." The story does move along quickly and readers are able to really get to know who Dan Mathews is and what he is all about in under 300 pages.
Throughout his life, Mathews has faced many challenges, but with a strong will he has prevailed. Mathews' strong compassion towards animals has gotten him into some interesting situations. His first stunt in trying to help animals was a very large sit-in/stake-out at the grants offices at the National Institute of Health (NIH). The goal was to stay there until the NIH stopped funding the Gennarelli head-injury lab in Pennsylvania, where animals were being tested on in cruel experiments. Mathews chickened out after a few days, but felt guilty enough to go back. In the end, the secretary of health and human services tried to help, but was unable to do much. Despite the hard work without much change, Mathews did not back down from his quest to help animals. Mathews continues on his journey: raiding Calvin Klein's office in New York, getting him to quit design fur clothing, crashing Milan's fashion show by jumping up on the catwalk dressed as a priest holding a sign that says "Thou Shalt Not Kill" to protest fur, and even protesting Kentucky Fried Chicken in Paris, which ends up with him getting locked up in a mental institution, where he had to prove himself sane, hence the title of the book (Mathews, Committed). When asked in an interview by Craig Wilson from USA Today how he is able to do all of the different stunts that he does, Mathews replied saying, "I'd like to pretend I'm a brave soul, but the only reason I do it is the profound disgust I feel about what happens to these animals... The only way to achieve victory is to confront the abusers." Mathews shows that he will do just about anything for the animals.
Mathews shows some insight on PETA and what it is like working for one of the world's best known animal activist groups. This insight gives readers first-hand experience and the real truth about PETA. People often view PETA as an overzealous, crazy activist group, but as this book shows, that is not the case. Overzealous, maybe; crazy, not so much. Peasley from the Rocky Mountain News thought that the best part of the book was when Mathews notes that as cable TV molded an audience "hungrier for entertainment than education," PETA was forced to switch from campaigns that appealed to the intellect to "flashier ways to vie for people's attention. Little by little we had to boil the brains out of many of our efforts. But by changing with the tabloid times and using provocative vaudevillian tactics, PETA soon earned a name for itself as one of the most enduring, annoying, and influential pressure groups in the world. Mathews explains to readers that even though PETA doesn't stick to calm protesting with signs and handing out pamphlets, they have a purpose for their actions. Just like Mathews has a purpose for his actions, whether working for PETA or not.
Committed has its good and bad qualities as all books do. The Tampa Tribune seems to think that the memoir "skillfully illustrates Mathews' life experiences shaped him toward a compassion for animals", also believing that "he recounts with equal honesty the highs of negotiating deals and making a difference... and the lows of sneaking out of a sit-in". This may be true in the Tampa Tribune's opinion, but not everyone believes so. Mathews has spent much of his life working for PETA so it is no surprise that he had nothing negative to say about the animal activist group in his memoir. Though Committed shows people that they should always stand by their beliefs, Mathews does leave information that tends to make people upset with PETA. Elizabeth Royte's review of this book noticed this, "We don't hear a peep about PETA's more controversial practices, like euthanizing animals taken in from substandard shelters or distributing violent cartoons at elementary schools." Though she does continue saying, "for the most part Committed reveals the larky spirit of someone delighted with the social and political niche he's carved for himself". Mathews puts all of himself into this book and it really shows. Despite the memoir being one-sided, not allowing readers to learn of PETA's mistakes, Mathews shows readers that standing up for what you believe in can lead to a life of happiness.
Committed is a very powerful and moving book. It gives readers a chance to see inside the life of Dan Mathews, animal-lover and PETA's campaign vice-president. Anyone who loves a good story that is witty yet informative and sometimes serious, this would be the book to read. Mathews shows such strong determination to stick to his beliefs and help the animals, it's enough to make someone want to stand up for a cause of their own. Committed allows readers to see first-hand some of the things an animal activist will do just to fight for their cause. Mathews demonstrates that hard work towards a cause you believe in reaps many benefits.