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Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature Paperback – August 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
"Most people approach rabbits as if they were stuffed animals: cute, but not capable of much except, maybe, eating carrots and twitching their noses," note Davis (writer and rabbit owner) and DeMello (president of the House Rabbit Society), who present quite a different picture: rabbits (and hares) are complex, social creatures intertwined with human culture. To date, no book has so closely examined the behavior and place of the rabbit-as pet, prey, pest and mythic figure-in history. As the only animal Westerners use as both pet and meat, the rabbit reflects some of our most unsettling cultural contradictions. Part literary companion, with analyses of rabbits in art and literature from poet William Cowper to Beatrix Potter, and part clear-eyed review of facts on rabbit "industry" and rabbit biology, this volume imparts insight into the genesis of pet keeping, the fur industry and the permutations of rabbits in folklore. With colorful anecdotes (including one about introducing Jack, a rabbit grieving for his mate, to new friends), this absorbing book opens the door on the realm of all things lagomorph. The prevalence of rabbits in folklore (as fools, mischief makers and sexualized witches) reveals just how much baggage this small creature has carried, up through the age of the Playboy Bunny.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The rabbit has been domesticated for roughly 1,500 years, but until fairly recently they were not kept as house pets; the traditional pet rabbit was caged in a hutch outdoors. The rise of "house rabbits" that live uncaged indoors and the dearth of books written about rabbit behavior led Davis and DeMello to create a book that explores the roots and nuances of rabbit behavior to increase our understanding and appreciation of the species. Whether exploring our schizophrenic approach to rabbits (Are they pets, pests, or a profitable farm animal?), portraying the complex lives of wild rabbits and the corresponding behaviors of their tame brethren, discussing the roles rabbits have played in folklore and religion, or describing the commercial uses for rabbits, the authors reveal a fascinating depth of information. Enlivened by a broad range of quotations from such sources as poets, scientists, and animal-rights activists; illustrated with period and modern photographs; and heavily footnoted, this is currently the best book to offer readers who want to know more about their pet rabbits. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
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It covers all aspects of rabbits from family history and genetics (did you know that the rabbit family is the third closest to humans genetically? I didn't.) to where rabbits are from (nearly every modern rabbit is from a tiny island in the Mediterranean (who knew?).
The book was written by two rabbit lovers, and they will win you over to Bunny-dom in this book.
I found the chapters on the bunnies through the ages to be the most interesting. I never realized that rabbits where so connected with religion through history.
The book is lavishly illustrated, and the writing style is very approachable and understandable.
I highly recommend this book!
The author takes us through the mythical stories our ancestors believed about lagomorphs through to modern medical and cosmetic testing. This is not a watered down history. The authors do not try to sugar coat what we do with rabbits or animals in general.
If you are an animal lover you will appreciate this book.
Rabbits are an almost globally reviled animal; their only redeeming attributes being their hoppy legs and wiggly noses, round faces and wide eyes, suitable only for the subject of anthropomorphosizing these characteristics for children's books. Yet it is that same round face with wide eyes that goads us on to greater and greater acts of pesticidal warfare. To many, they are simply unworthy of any sort of cultural or historical study. This book, its authors, and its publishers, disagree.
The book is an interesting social study of these opposing aspects of the rabbit. Part delight, and part despair, part childhood friend and part adult foe, rabbits and their roles in human history are an interesting study in human cultural contradiction, which is the pervasive theme of the book. Many have become so bogged down in their joy or anger over specific chapters of the book that the overall theme of the book has become lost in personal interests.
I respectfully disagree with some that the agenda of the authors in the chapters regarding animal testing, breeding and the commercial meat industry is to advocate animal rights. I do believe that the authors are interested in animal welfare, however. There is a difference. This debate among the reviews is neither here nor there in relation to the subject of the book. Whatever you believe the authors intended with those chapters is irrelevant. The book's overall aim is to guide the reader through our cultural views of the rabbit, in all their glorious confliction. This is what makes this book worth reading.
The authors never deny they have a bias; they live with companion rabbits and are bound to have certain feelings on specific subjects. They make that clear. They also present the facts gathered on each topic in relation to the underlying theme of the book, which is the more important aspect of this excercise. In this they have succeeded. They draw no conclusion, leaving it open to the reader to decide how they feel about rabbits now that they have an understanding of them and their history within our culture. They obviously hope that their readers come away from the experienced changed, yet they leave that change open to the reader's discretion as to if they come out in favor of rabbits, against them, or, like most of us, a mixture of both.
The authors are realistic in their expectations that the majority of their readers will have had some interest in rabbits in the first place to have made the decision to pick up the book. Those who have no interest in rabbits (and they are the majority of the populace) will most likely choose not to read about them at all. However, it is these readers, should they decide to delve into the world of the rabbit, that will be the least emotionally invested in any particular chapter to appreciate the overall arc of the book; that we as humans are capable of, in equal parts, loving and hating another creature so much that we iconize and demonize them in one breath.
Most recent customer reviews
My kid used to raise rabbits for show and pet.Read more