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Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals Hardcover – September 7, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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“A fun read. . . . What buoys this book is Herzog’s voice. He’s an assured, knowledgeable and friendly guide.” (Associated Press)
“A fascinating, thoughtful, and thoroughly enjoyable exploration of a major dimension of human experience.” (Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought)
“Everybody who is interested in the ethics of our relationship between humans and animals should read this book.” (Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human)
“An instant classic….Written so accessibly and personally, while simultaneously satisfying the scholar in all of us.” (Arnold Arluke, Anthrozoös)
“Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat is both educational and enjoyable, a page-turner that I dare say puts Herzog in the same class as Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis. Read this book. You’ll learn some, you’ll laugh some, you’ll love some.” (BookPage)
“Hal Herzog deftly blends anecdote with scientific research to show how almost any moral or ethical position regarding our relationship with animals can lead to absurd consequences. In an utterly appealing narrative, he reveals the quirky…ways we humans try to make sense of these absurdities.” (Irene M. Pepperberg, author of Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process)
“One of a kind. I don’t know when I’ve read anything more comprehensive about our highly involved, highly contradictory relationships with animals, relationships which we mindlessly, placidly continue no matter how irrational they may be….This page-turning book is quite something—you won’t forget it any time soon.” (Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World)
“Hal Herzog does for our relationships with animals what Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma did for our relationships with food….The book is a joy to read, and no matter what your beliefs are now, it will change how you think.” (Sam Gosling, Professor of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin, author of Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You)
“This is a wonderful book—wildly readable, funny, scientifically sound, and with surprising moments of deep, challenging thoughts. I loved it.” (Robert M. Sapolsky, Neuroscientist, Stanford University, and author of Monkeyluv and A Primate's Memoir)
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Top Customer Reviews
Herzog is an anthrozoologist who studies the interactions between humans and animals. He is also possessed with a quick eye for absurdity and a broad range of interests. In this book he has visited industrial farms and Appalachian cock fights, dogmeat markets, dolphin treatment centers, loggerhead turtle nests protection runs,animal research laboratories, and rescue refuges for injured animals. Even his family pets come up for scrutiny, when an animal rights neighbor called to ask if he was feeding kittens to his new pet boa constrictor and he experienced a revulsion that he did not feel about feeding them mice. And it led to a comparison of the food a snake needs compared to a cat- 5 pounds of flesh versus 50 each year which leaves a moral burden of owning a cat ten times that of a boa. Herzog writes well. I had trouble putting the book down, stopping only to ponder some of the questions he raises.
Like most of us, Herzog eats meat, wears leather shoes, but thinks that animals should not suffer. He foreswears veal, spends more money to get chickens that roamed under open skies, and is more troubled by the use of laboratory animals for safe eye makeup than for medicine. But he spends time with animal rights activists of all stripes, giving them a fair hearing and pointing out where people he may disagree with are correct.
For instance he looks at regulations protecting lab animals. Dogs are entitled to a period of play each day while cats are not. Mice have very little regulation, but a lab mouse is entitled to more protection than a wild mouse in the same lab, even if most of the wild mice are escapees from the experiments. He goes so far as to design a series of animal experiments and submitted them for approval to Animal Care Committees at research universities, expecting similar responses. In fact approvals varied 80% of the time and were quite arbitrary.
In fact Herzog tells us that the most comprehensive legal protections for animals, which still are admirable, were developed in Nazi Germany while human beings were tortured and slaughtered. The cognitive dissonance is amazing.
But he points out that we have our own cognitive dissonance. Why do we treat cockfighting as more cruel than the slaughter of chicken for food? Your average Tennessee gamecock will be pampered during its two year life, running free with 150 feet of lawn and a private bed, fed special rations, being exercised like an athlete, able to mate, then sliced by the Mexican short knife after a fight to the death. Your average industrially raised Cobb 500 chick will live in utter squalor, bred too large for its aching legs, lungs burning for 24 hours a day from ammonia-laden air, never seeing daylight, pumped full of medicated chicken chow, then will be jammed into a crate, suspended upside down and electrocuted around its 42nd day of life. Herzog gives the red light to both activities, but sees the hypocrisy of trying to make cockfighting a felony while permitting wholesale torture for food production.
He looks at vegetarians, and vegans and ex-vegetarians: 97-99% of Americans eat some flesh including 60% of people who call themselves vegetarians but ate meat in the past 24 hours. There are 3 times as many ex-vegetarians than vegetarians, usually because they often felt sick. Actual vegetarians can range from his friend Pete who is disgusted by meat but will shoot the racoons who steal his vegetables, to people who wrestle with taking the life of a carrot, much less a fish. Herzog considers the various theories of animal rights, from an absolutist vision where choosing between saving a baby or a hamster in a fire is equivalent, to considering an animal's ability to suffer, its level of cognition or more arbitrary determinants (say cuteness) to decide whether one can kill or eat an animal. Is it better to kill 200 chickens or one cow? How about 70,000 chickens or one blue whale?
Since this book deals with the morality of killing animals. I wish that Herzog had looked at the religious treatments of killing for food or ceremony. Both Kosher and Halal restrictions look seriously at the treatment of animals, before and during slaughter. Even the separation of milk and meat is justified by revulsion over the idea that a kid might be stewed in its mother's milk. And Kosher vegetables must be inspected to not inadvertently kill and consume insects, which would be more sinful than eating pork. A friend who is a priest of Ifa, will ceremonially kill and eat chickens or African rats, but is otherwise vegetarian. A college professor spent time with a tribe of nominally vegetarian New Guinnean natives who four times a year would religiously kill a boar and distribute its meat to every member. There is much to be learned from religious attitudes towards killing food.
This is a book that will change the way you look at food and our relationship with animals no matter where you are coming from. He wrestles with complexity, personally coming down on the side of non-food fundamentalism, an omnivore who takes animal consciousness seriously. I highly recommend it.
The pleasures in the book are mostly of the "interesting tidbit" and "food for thought" variety. For instance, in the chapter "The Importance of Being Cute," Herzog explains how the Nazis managed to raise dogs above Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals in the social construct because Hitler, believe it or not, loved animals. In the same chapter, he wonders what it is like to be a spider. Do spiders have feelings too? Here we get into the squishy side of this "new science" as Herzog includes an anecdote (real or apocryphal, I can't say) of an arachnologist who constructs a web of rubber tubes and sits in the middle of it to find out.
"Pet-O-Philia" examines our tendency to turn pets into people (benign shades of the Nazis?) by dressing them in clothes and sleeping in bed with them. "Friends, Foes, and Fashion Statements" tackles the tendency for breeds to become popular. It discusses the controversy surrounding pit bulls and rottweilers. Some localities have tried to outright ban the breeds, yet studies show that dachshunds and chihuahuas bite more often. What skews the data? The numbers of the breed. A huge burst in popularity for pit bulls increased their numbers which in turn exaggerated the number of incidents.
In one ethical section of the book, Herzog meets with and even admits to liking many cockfighters. He condemns the practice, but shows that the cocks are often treated much more humanely than the chickens we eat every day. Hypocrisy? Herzog thinks so. And he gives us this: "The comedian Chris Rock made the same point on national television in response to a photograph of Sarah Palin, then governor of Alaska and an avid big-game hunter. He told Letterman, 'She's holding a dead, bloody moose. And Michael Vick's like, "Why am I in jail?" They let a white lady shoot a moose, but a black man wants to kill a dog? Now that's a crime.'"
If you are interested in animals -- both wild and domestic -- you can't help but be intrigued by Herzog's book. Not only has he done his research, he's not afraid to challenge his readers. Overall, it's an inviting mix.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Came on time.
Only complaint is that it had extra page length sticking outside of the book.