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.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $4.54 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends Hardcover – October 27, 2011
|New from||Used from|
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"In his latest book, renowned author and dog expert, Mark Derr, shows that one can be scientifically rigorous and still write a highly engaging and accessible account of how the dog became the dog. Derr shows how shared sociability and curiosity drew wolves and humans together resulting in a close and enduring relationship of mutual utility. If you have to decide which dog book to read among the many that are available, this clearly is the one to choose because of its scientific accuracy and easy-to-read style." — Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals
"Mark Derr has produced a remarkable narrative on the origin of the domestic dog. Using the latest findings from such varied fields as genomic research, archaeology, comparative anatomy, and paleontology, Derr is able to piece together what is the most likely narrative for the story of how the dog became the first domesticated animal. His findings clearly show that widely held assumptions about the supposed integral role of neoteny in the domestication process are likely erroneous. Such findings are likely to be controversial, but Derr has compiled so much evidence that one will think twice before repeating the line that dogs are nothing more than juvenilized wolves. Because of this book looks at domestic dog origins from so many different perspectives, it may be the most important book written on the subject since Konrad Lorenz wrote Man Meets Dog in 1949. This book will fascinate anyone who has ever loved a dog." — Scottie Westfall, author of the Retrieverman blog
"Derr's research spans the globe and considers mythology and literature alongside more scientific evidence as he explores the stories of Romulus and Remus and of Odysseus and his dog, Argus." — Sacramento News and Reviews
"Derr's richly detailed, well-sourced research, however, offers a full plate of choices and razor-sharp analysis to help you connect the dots while not undermining the authenticity of the big picture." — Seattle Kennel Club
About the Author
Mark Derr is the author of five books, including How the Dog Became the Dog, published by Overlook in 2011. His articles and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Natural History, Smithsonian. and many other publications. He lives in Miami Beach.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
From the Journal's excerpt it is clear this is a well written and engaging account of the human/dog relationship, going back much, much further than the 15 to 17,000 years conventional archaeology ascribes. Using a broader base of DNA testing and earlier archaeological evidence (placing the beginnings of the domestication process at least twice as far back with widely dispersed wandering hunter/gatherers instead of settled humans), Derr's account makes it clear that this co-evolution is both ongoing, beneficial and profoundly transformative for both sides.
I look forward to reading more of this fascinating story - no matter what format it may be....
(ps. follow up note on 11/08/11;
I just heard an interview with the author on NPR today, and it sounds like the story of social dog-wolf/human interaction/evolution is rich with detail (plenty enough to fill a whole book, apparently a concern of some people who are worried this new book is just a padded magazine article). Basically he is presenting a controversial theory that humans had less to do with the domestication of dogs (via selectively choosing docile/immature traits), than natural selection for cooperation between the two super social species.
As Derr puts it in the WSJ article, "The standard explanation was that once the dump-diver became a dog, humans took charge of its evolution through selective breeding, choosing those with desired traits and culling those who came up short.This account is now falling apart in the face of new genetic analyses and recently discovered fossils. The emerging story sees humans and proto-dogs evolving together: We chose them, to be sure, but they chose us too, and our shared characteristics may well account for our seemingly unshakable mutual intimacy. Dogs and humans are social beings who depend on cooperation for their survival and have an uncanny ability to understand each other in order to work together. Both wolves and humans brought unique, complementary talents to a relationship that was based not on subservience and intimidation but on mutual respect."
What is interesting about this to me is that it pushes the date of this early interaction much further back than previously accepted, and makes for dogs selecting for our traits as much us of theirs.
It's easy to take dogs for granted today, and see it only from the master's point of view, but besides their obvious companionship and work duties, I've heard elsewhere that basic domestication of herding animals would never have happened without them. This is just one hint at how they have molded our evolution. Obviously we have had a hand in selecting for all the variety of breeds, but I think we humans have been changed fundamentally by dogs as well (perhaps in such traits as our desire and ability to play and be emotionally open long past our childhood, especially for men). When and how this happened is fascinating. And as far as I can tell it's still happening.
I'm surprised there hasn't been a reader review on Amazon yet from someone who's actually read this book. It seems like it's getting a lot of exposure in the media, and stirring up some strong opinions...our evolution after all is a profound subject.)
Instead, you get a ridiculously dry and overwrought account of a period of time the author himself admits there is no concrete data for. Instead of providing any real information, he simply repeats the same information over and over again, and the repetition in this book becomes insanely tedious. It's not an easy read, often using complex vocabulary for no real point at all. The author makes no attempt to make it accessible to the public, so if you're someone not already familiar with biology vocab, this might be a tough one.
It's also not very engaging. It doesn't provide you with anything interesting, and it doesn't bother to tell a narrative. He states in the beginning of the book that he may use fictitious stories to paint a picture, but the handful of times he jumps into one, it's so jarring and out of place that you can't even see what point he's trying to make. Instead, his stories only function as a way to repeat what he's already said sometimes 2-3 times.
So how did a dog become the dog? His entire book can be summed up with one line. "We don't know, but it probably didn't happen all at once, but gradually and possibly from many different sources, all cross breeding and back breeding throughout history as humans/wolf populations migrated, split up, and merged." That's it. You've read his book. He gives nothing else of insight.
The author was asked to write a book about how the dog became the dog. The author knew the answer to that was complex and uncertain. Rather than creating a narrative telling us what scientists DID know and then coming up with rough estimates, he decided to obsess about specifically answering how the dog became the dog like a scientist (rather than a teacher). That meant his answer was complex and uncertain. It's a book that better show cases what we don't know, rather than what we do know.