Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

In recent years, scientific advances in our understanding of animal minds have led to major changes in how we think about, and treat, animals in zoos and aquariums. The general public, it seems, is slowly coming to understand that animals like apes, elephants, and dolphins have not just brains, but complicated inner and social lives, and that we need to act accordingly.

Yet that realization hasn’t yet made its presence felt to any great degree in our most intimate relationship with animals: at the dinner table. Sure, there are vegetarians and vegans all over, but at the same time, meat consumption is up, and meat remains a central part of the culinary and dining experience for the majority of people in the developed world.

With Personalities on the Plate, Barbara King asks us to think hard about our meat eating--and how we might reduce it. But this isn’t a polemic intended to convert readers to veganism. What she is interested in is why we’ve not drawn food animals into our concern and just what we do know about the minds and lives of chickens, cows, octopuses, fish, and more. Rooted in the latest science, and built on a mix of firsthand experience (including entomophagy, which, yes, is what you think it is) and close engagement with the work of scientists, farmers, vets, and chefs, Personalities on the Plate is an unforgettable journey through the world of animals we eat. Knowing what we know--and what we may yet learn--what is the proper ethical stance toward eating meat? What are the consequences for the planet? How can we life an ethically and ecologically sound life through our food choices?

We could have no better guide to these fascinatingly thorny questions than King, whose deep empathy embraces human and animal alike. Readers will be moved, provoked, and changed by this powerful book.
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About the author

Barbara J. King is professor emerita of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, where she taught for twenty-eight years. She is the author of How Animals Grieve and Evolving God, and her work has been featured in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and on NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos and Culture blog.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Mar 7, 2017
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9780226195216
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Animal Rights
Nature / Animals / General
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
Nature / General
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The world's wildest collection of animal knowledge and lore!

Lions, and tigers, and bears . . . and dinosaurs, dragons, and monsters. Oh my!

For hundreds of years, the most popular books in the Western world next to the Bible were "bestiaries," fanciful encyclopedias collecting all of human knowledge and mythology about the animal kingdom. In these pages, eagles and elephants lived next to griffins and sea monsters. Now, in The Big, Bad Book of Beasts, award-winning author Michael Largo has updated the medieval bestsellers for the twenty-first century, illuminating little-known facts, astonishing secrets, and bizarre superstitions about the beasts that inhabit our world—and haunt our imaginations. You'll learn about the biggest bug ever, the smallest animal in the world, and the real creatures that inspired the fabled unicorns. You'll discover how birds learned to fly, why cats rub against your legs, and a thousand other facts that will make you look at nature in a wonderfully new way.

Did you know?

The fastest animal in the world is the peregrine falcon, which reaches speeds of over 200 miles per hours.

Circus ringmaster P.T. Barnum fooled many when he displayed a "mermaid" carcass that was later proved to be monkey bones sewed together with the body of a fish.

Discovered in a remote volcanic crater in New Guinea, the Bosavi wolly rat grows to the size of a cat.

President Andrew Jackson bought an African gray parrot to keep his wife company. The bird outlived them both and was removed from Jackson's funeral for cussing in both English and Spanish.

A to Z: From Aardvark to Zooplankton!

For all ages!

Includes 289 illustrations!

Seeing a cat rubbing against a person, Charles Darwin described her as "in an affectionate frame of mind"; for Samuel Barnett, a behavioralist, the mental realm is beyond the grasp of scientists andbehavior must be described technically, as a physical action only. What difference does this difference make? In Eileen Crist's analysis of the language used to portray animal behavior, the difference "is that in the reader's mind the very image of the cat's 'body' is transfigured...from an experiencing subject...into a vacant object."

Images of Animals examines the literature of behavioral science, revealing how works with the common aim of documenting animal lives, habits, and instincts describe "realities that are worlds apart." Whether the writer affirms the Cartesian verdict of an unbridgeable chasm between animals and humans or the Darwinian panorama of evolutionary continuity, the question of animal mind is ever present and problematic in behavioral thought. Comparing the naturalist writings of Charles Darwin, Jean Henri Fabre, and George and Elizabeth Peckham to works of classical ethology by Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen and of contemporary sociobiology, Crist demonstrates how words matter. She does not attempt to defend any of these constructions as a faithful representation of animal existence, but to show how each internally coherent view molds the reader's understanding of animals. Rejecting the notion that "a neutral language exists, or can be constructed, which yields incontestably objective accounts of animal behavior," Crist argues that "language is not instrumental in the depiction of animals and, in particular, it is never impartial with respect to the question of animal mind."
Animals are everywhere in our lives. We follow them into the wild, we invite them into our homes, they inhabit our dreams, mythologies, folklores, and popular cultures. What is this powerful bond? Why are we so fascinated with animals of every kind? And why has our relationship with them always been riddled with such complexity and contradiction?

A Walk in the Animal Kingdom explores the world of animals with the inquisitiveness, depth, and gentle humor that readers across the globe have come to expect from the acclaimed author-artist team of Jerry Dennis and Glenn Wolff. The book is an inquiry into animals of the world, their astonishing diversity and abundance; their mating habits, defensive strategies, and other behaviors; their extraordinary senses of sight, hearing, and smell. It is also an exploration of our profound connection with them, from the joys they inspire and the fears they arouse, to their prominence in our lives as pets, team mascots, and embodiments of wild nature—and the paradox that allows us to battle to protect certain species while ignoring others that are disappearing at a rate perhaps unequaled in the history of our planet.

Like the previous collaborations of Dennis and Wolff, A Walk in the Animal Kingdom is certain to become a classic among books about nature—its wonders, its complexities, and our place in it.

PRAISE:
“This writer-artist team shines a bright and lovely light on nature.” —Los Angeles Times
“Charming...informative...humorous...This wonderfully illustrated book will make heroes of parents and teachers, who will be able to explain nature's magic and the superstitions surrounding it." —El Paso Times
"Vastly entertaining, valuable... Makes natural history so much fun the reader is sucked from paragraph to paragraph, page to page, chapter to chapter.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A perfect choice for adults and kids alike who want to discover more about how the world is put together... entertaining and fact-filled.” —Houston Post
“As leaves fall and the sky becomes more noticeable, you’re likely to look towards the heavens and wonder at their mysteries...Author Jerry Dennis and illustrator Glenn Wolff address the questions with intelligence, wit and artistry.” —Atlanta Constitution
"A delightful book, both readable and informative—like the best of Hal Borland and Edwin Way Teale...You've many hours of pleasure waiting with It's Raining Frogs and Fishes." —Richmond Times-Dispatch
"With text that mesmerizes, drawings that enchant...this book calls you to hold it open before you." —The Oakland Press
"This delightful look at nature... reminds adults—especially in this hectic, fast-paced, just-do-it world—that it is more than OK, it is desirable, to be child-like and to look up at the heavens and ask why." —Toledo Blade
“This is a perfect choice for adults and kids alike who want to discover more about how the world is put together. Dennis has done a good job of entertaining and informing at the same time, and Glenn Wolff's illustrations gracefully supplement the fact-filled text. It's enjoyable reading and a good reference for anyone's library." —Sacramento Bee
"Dennis has a knack for being at once scholarly and readable, which makes this book both instructive and enjoyable. You can't ask for much more than that...It's Raining Frogs and Fishes is a book no home should be without." —Binghamton (NY) Press and Sun-Bulletin
“Dennis, who writes “The Natural Enquirer” for Wildlife Conservation magazine, is a consummate researcher and gifted storyteller. Wolff’s drawings are first rate...Must reading for the naturally curious of all ages, and it belongs in every school library.” —Michigan Out-of-Doors
“Jerry Dennis is one of today’s most readable and informative nature essayists, and his latest book, The Bird in the Waterfall, is a marvelous look at the natural history of oceans, rivers, and lakes. It ought to be required reading for anyone who loves the outdoors, angling, surfing, beachcombing, or birding.” —Buffalo News
“Jerry Dennis’s clear-eyed essays surpass mere explanation of facts; he conveys the rare gift of understanding the workings of nature, along with passion for its beauties and terrors. His prose is admirably paced with Glenn Wolff’s artistic microcosms.” —Arts Borealis
“With melodic prose and luminous drawings, Jerry Dennis and Glenn Wolff tear the curtain from the sky we all share, revealing the inner workings...Keep this book handy for times when life grows a bit too predictable. It's giddy, it's reverent, and it's guaranteed to get your heart beating with wonder again." —Janine Benyus, author of Beastly Behaviors

Why are some species admired or beloved while others are despised? An eagle or hawk circling overhead inspires awe while urban pigeons shuffling underfoot are kicked away in revulsion. Fly fishermen consider carp an unwelcome trash fish, even though the trout they hope to catch are often equally non-native. Wolves and coyotes are feared and hunted in numbers wildly disproportionate to the dangers they pose to humans and livestock.

In Trash Animals, a diverse group of environmental writers explores the natural history of wildlife species deemed filthy, unwanted, invasive, or worthless, highlighting the vexed relationship humans have with such creatures. Each essay focuses on a so-called trash species—gulls, coyotes, carp, cockroaches, magpies, prairie dogs, and lubber grasshoppers, among others—examining the biology and behavior of each in contrast to the assumptions widely held about them. Identifying such animals as trash tells us nothing about problematic wildlife but rather reveals more about human expectations of, and frustrations with, the natural world.


By establishing the unique place that maligned species occupy in the contemporary landscape and in our imagination, the contributors challenge us to look closely at these animals, to reimagine our ethics of engagement with such wildlife, and to question the violence with which we treat them. Perhaps our attitudes reveal more about humans than they do about the animals.


Contributors: Bruce Barcott; Charles Bergman, Pacific Lutheran U; James E. Bishop, Young Harris College; Andrew D. Blechman; Michael P. Branch, U of Nevada, Reno; Lisa Couturier; Carolyn Kraus, U of Michigan–Dearborn; Jeffrey A. Lockwood, U of Wyoming; Kyhl Lyndgaard, Marlboro College; Charles Mitchell, Elmira College; Kathleen D. Moore, Oregon State U; Catherine Puckett; Bernard Quetchenbach, Montana State U, Billings; Christina Robertson, U of Nevada, Reno; Gavan P. L. Watson, U of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


From the time of our earliest childhood encounters with animals, we casually ascribe familiar emotions to them. But scientists have long cautioned against such anthropomorphizing, arguing that it limits our ability to truly comprehend the lives of other creatures. Recently, however, things have begun to shift in the other direction, and anthropologist Barbara J. King is at the forefront of that movement, arguing strenuously that we can—and should—attend to animal emotions. With How Animals Grieve, she draws our attention to the specific case of grief, and relates story after story—from fieldsites, farms, homes, and more—of animals mourning lost companions, mates, or friends. King tells of elephants surrounding their matriarch as she weakens and dies, and, in the following days, attending to her corpse as if holding a vigil. A housecat loses her sister, from whom she's never before been parted, and spends weeks pacing the apartment, wailing plaintively. A baboon loses her daughter to a predator and sinks into grief. In each case, King uses her anthropological training to interpret and try to explain what we see—to help us understand this animal grief properly, as something neither the same as nor wholly different from the human experience of loss. The resulting book is both daring and down-to-earth, strikingly ambitious even as it’s careful to acknowledge the limits of our understanding. Through the moving stories she chronicles and analyzes so beautifully, King brings us closer to the animals with whom we share a planet, and helps us see our own experiences, attachments, and emotions as part of a larger web of life, death, love, and loss.

Religion has been a central part of human experience since at least the dawn of recorded history. The gods change, as do the rituals, but the underlying desire remains—a desire to belong to something larger, greater, most lasting than our mortal, finite selves.

But where did that desire come from? Can we explain its emergence through evolution? Yes, says biological anthropologist Barbara J. King—and doing so not only helps us to understand the religious imagination, but also reveals fascinating links to the lives and minds of our primate cousins. Evolving God draws on King’s own fieldwork among primates in Africa and paleoanthropology of our extinct ancestors to offer a new way of thinking about the origins of religion, one that situates it in a deep need for emotional connection with others, a need we share with apes and monkeys. Though her thesis is provocative, and she’s not above thoughtful speculation, King’s argument is strongly rooted in close observation and analysis. She traces an evolutionary path that connects us to other primates, who, like us, display empathy, make meanings through interaction, create social rules, and display imagination—the basic building blocks of the religious imagination. With fresh insights, she responds to recent suggestions that chimpanzees are spiritual—or even religious—beings, and that our ancient humanlike cousins carefully disposed of their dead well before the time of Neandertals.

King writes with a scientist’s appreciation for evidence and argument, leavened with a deep empathy and admiration for the powerful desire to belong, a desire that not only brings us together with other humans, but with our closest animal relations as well.
New York Times bestselling author Douglas Adams and zoologist Mark Carwardine take off around the world in search of exotic, endangered creatures.

Join them as they encounter the animal kingdom in its stunning beauty, astonishing variety, and imminent peril: the giant Komodo dragon of Indonesia, the helpless but loveable Kakapo of New Zealand, the blind river dolphins of China, the white rhinos of Zaire, the rare birds of Mauritius island in the Indian Ocean. Hilarious and poignant—as only Douglas Adams can be—Last Chance to See is an entertaining and arresting odyssey through the Earth’s magnificent wildlife galaxy.
 
Praise for Last Chance to See
 
“Lively, sharply satirical, brilliantly written . . . shows how human care can undo what human carelessness has wrought.”—The Atlantic

“These authors don’t hesitate to present the alarming facts: More than 1,000 species of animals (and plants) become extinct every year. . . . Perhaps Adams and Carwardine, with their witty science, will help prevent such misadventures in the future.”—Boston Sunday Herald
 
“Very funny and moving . . . The glimpses of rare fauna seem to have enlarged [Adams’s] thinking, enlivened his world; and so might the animals do for us all, if we were to help them live.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“[Adams] invites us to enter into a conspiracy of laughter and caring.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Amusing . . . thought-provoking . . . Its details on the heroic efforts being made to save these animals are inspirational.”—The New York Times Book Review
From the New York Times bestselling author of Evidence of Harm and Animal Factory—a groundbreaking scientific thriller that exposes the dark side of SeaWorld, America's most beloved marine mammal park

Death at SeaWorld centers on the battle with the multimillion-dollar marine park industry over the controversial and even lethal ramifications of keeping killer whales in captivity. Following the story of marine biologist and animal advocate at the Humane Society of the US, Naomi Rose, Kirby tells the gripping story of the two-decade fight against PR-savvy SeaWorld, which came to a head with the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. Kirby puts that horrific animal-on-human attack in context. Brancheau's death was the most publicized among several brutal attacks that have occurred at Sea World and other marine mammal theme parks.

Death at SeaWorld introduces real people taking part in this debate, from former trainers turned animal rights activists to the men and women that champion SeaWorld and the captivity of whales. In section two the orcas act out. And as the story progresses and orca attacks on trainers become increasingly violent, the warnings of Naomi Rose and other scientists fall on deaf ears, only to be realized with the death of Dawn Brancheau. Finally he covers the media backlash, the eyewitnesses who come forward to challenge SeaWorld's glossy image, and the groundbreaking OSHA case that
challenges the very idea of keeping killer whales in captivity and may spell the end of having trainers in the water with the ocean's top predators.

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