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The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife Hardcover – Illustrated, April 17, 2018

4.6 out of 5 stars 304 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


On the New York Times Book Review's Paperback Row

One of the
New York Times Book Review's "17 Refreshing Books to Read This Summer"

"Her pace is quick, her touch is light, and through her wealth of research we can reach new heights of wonder."―
New York Times Book Review

"Funny and fascinating, this book will change the way you see wildlife."―

"A surefire summer winner...even Cooke's simple facts are funny."―
New York Times Book Review

"Endlessly fascinating."―
Bill Bryson, author of A Walk in the Woods, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and In a Sunburned Country

"Lucy Cooke's modern bestiary is as well-informed as you'd expect from an Oxford zoologist. It's also downright funny."―
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, The Selfish Gene, and The Ancestor's Tale, and emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford

"Cooke, founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society, raises the profile of many poorly understood animals, revealing surprising, and often hilarious, truths that are much better than the fictions."―
Scientific American

"[A] deeply researched, sassily written history of 'the biggest misconceptions, mistakes and myths we've concocted about the animal kingdom,' spread by figures from Aristotle to Walt Disney." ―

"Cooke's extensive travels, research and delightful sense of humor make
The Truth about Animals a fascinating modern bestiary."―Seattle Times

"In the end, the history of zoology reveals as much about our human foibles as about the animals we study. And this book will leave readers more enlightened about both."―
Science News

"Lucy Cooke's new book makes
Playboy seem as tedious and tame as a phone book...In her delightful reading of natural history, [Cooke] is both scientist and standup comic...Trained as an academic, Cooke's writing style is anything but--rather, it's bawdy, irreverent, guiltless, sometimes locker-room-ish and comedic. She makes you feel she's having fun as she pounds out the words...The Truth About Animals is a great read and fascinating fun."―Winnipeg Free Press

"Lucy Cooke takes equal delight in natural oddities and in people's long struggles to understand them. Part history, part biology, and wholly entertaining,
The Truth About Animals is a quirky and edifying romp."―Thor Hanson, author of Buzz, Feathers, and The Triumph of Seeds

"[An] intriguing and amusing survey of some unusual facets of animal behavior...Cooke puts scientific errors, some of them hilarious, into historical context."―

"[A] lighthearted but scientifically rigorous exploration...A pleasure for the budding naturalist in the family--or fans of Gerald Durrell and other animals."―
Kirkus Reviews

"Readers keen on animals and natural history in general should find Cooke's discussion fascinating and educational."―
Publishers Weekly

"Lucy Cooke's [
The Truth About Animals] was a joy from beginning to end. Who could resist a writer who argues that penguins have been pulling the wool over our eyes for years, and that, far from being cute and gregarious, they are actually pathologically unpleasant necrophiliacs?"―The Guardian (UK)

"Each of Cooke's thirteen breezy yet fact-stuffed chapters traces the origins of a long-standing myth about a species or class of animal."―
Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"The eclectic stories come thick and fast, with an equally varied human cast dedicated to uncovering the truth, scientifically or otherwise. Cooke illuminates and mickey-takes in equal measure, and the truth as she tells it is not only unexpected but often bizarre, bawdy and very, very funny. "―
BBC Wildlife (UK)

"As surprising as it is diverse. Consummate natural history writing: illuminating, remarkable - and very, very funny."
Alice Roberts, author of The Complete Human Body and The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being

"The rising star of natural history ... is she the new David Attenborough?"―
The Times (UK)

"TOP AUTUMN BOOK PICKS: Lucy Cooke's fascinating book is full of mind-boggling stuff. Cooke takes much pleasure in throwing in all manner of amazing facts."―
Reader's Digest (UK)

"A riot of facts....Cooke scores a series of goals with style and panache."―
The Times (UK)

"Beautifully written, meticulously researched, with the science often couched in outrageous asides, this is a splendid read. In fact, I cannot remember when I last enjoyed a non-fiction work so much."―
Daily Express (UK)

"Lucy Cooke unravels myths that will make you laugh out loud. Her knowledge of all things, furry, slimy and scaly is jaw-dropping."―
The Sun (UK)

"BOOK OF THE WEEK: Highly amusing and enlightening new book [from] brilliant zoologist Lucy Cooke."―
The Idler (UK)

About the Author

Lucy Cooke is an award-winning filmmaker who has written, produced, and directed several popular documentary series for the BBC, PBS, Discovery, and National Geographic. Her first book, A Little Book of Sloth, was a New York Times bestseller. She has written for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, among others, and she holds an MA in zoology from the University of Oxford. She lives in London.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Basic Books; 1st edition (April 17, 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0465094643
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0465094646
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.38 x 1.13 x 9.63 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 304 ratings

About the author

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Lucy Cooke is a New York Times best-selling author, award-winning broadcaster, National Geographic explorer and TED talker with a Masters in zoology from New College Oxford, where she studied under Richard Dawkins. Lucy has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times and Telegraph and is a columnist for BBC Wildlife magazine. Her first book The Unexpected Truth About Animals was short-listed for the Royal Society prize and has been translated into 18 languages. Her latest Bitch: A Revolutionary Guide to Sex, Evolution, and the Female Animal (also Bitch: On the Female of the Species in the US) was published in 2022 to critical acclaim. The UK launch was accompanied by a BBC Radio 4 series ‘Political Animals’, written and hosted by Lucy. Lucy has written, produced and presented prime time TV documentaries for BBC, PBS, Animal Planet and National Geographic. She is an accomplished public speaker and has performed at a range of events from the Royal Institution to Glastonbury music festival and the prestigious TED Women.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
304 global ratings

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5.0 out of 5 stars Although written by a scientist everything is clear and easy to understand
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 1, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars Good gift!
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5.0 out of 5 stars loved everything about it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and unexpected science
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