Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of History

Overview

The fascinating stories of the animals that changed civilizations.

Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the animals that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. Entries are organized by scientific name, except for Homo sapiens, which is featured last.

The 50 animals include the horse, dog, rat, whale, reindeer, beaver, flea, leech, dodo, falcon, oyster and shark. These creatures, great...

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Overview

The fascinating stories of the animals that changed civilizations.

Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the animals that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. Entries are organized by scientific name, except for Homo sapiens, which is featured last.

The 50 animals include the horse, dog, rat, whale, reindeer, beaver, flea, leech, dodo, falcon, oyster and shark. These creatures, great and small, have played central roles in the evolution of humankind, but they have remained at the periphery of our understanding of history. Whether it is an advancement in scientific knowledge, a trade war, disease and death, battles won and lost, or encounters with explorers in unknown lands, these animals have changed the course of history.

More than 150 elegant drawings,
photographs and paintings, as well as excerpts from literature, highlight the concise text. Each animal is judged by its influence in four categories:

  • Edible -- animals that have shaped agriculture, such as the cow
  • Medical -- animals that are "disease vectors," spreading bacteria and viruses, from malaria to plague
  • Commercial -- animals used for trade or in manufacturing
  • Practical -- animals used for transportation or clothing.

The animals described in Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History are familiar, but their roles in human history are easily overlooked. This attractive reference gives us a fresh perspective on our place in the animal kingdom.

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Editorial Reviews

Science Books and Films - Melissa McCartney
A simple writing style makes this book ideal for younger students, and it would be a wonderful addition for any classroom studying animals, while the intriguing trivia and historical references found in accompanying side-bars will engage even the most experienced adult reader. Be prepared when you compare your list of animals to the ones selected for this book, the last entry is one you most likely overlooked.
Booklist - Rick Roche
Readers may choose to read only the essays that interest them. Natural-history students will find the essays helpful introductions to further study. A website guide is included. Recommended for most public libraries.
Globe and Mail
A companion to Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History, Fifty Animals is the same sort of inspired invitation to browsing, with short but informative essays on each of the subjects, rich in illustrations, excerpts and sidebars. It's the sort of book that has you saying Wow, listen to this and Did you know... to companions over and over.
American Reference Books Annual 2012 - Shannon Graff Hysell
(reviewed with Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History) These two volumes from Firefly uncover some of the most interesting stories of how animals and plants have impacted human civilization in economic, political, and industrial history. This is an original approach that links the biological sciences to the social sciences and students and general readers will find many interesting stories within these pages.
The Green Teacher - Philip LiWei
[It] will no doubt be popular even as an informal addition to any education setting.
Network Review, The Scientific and Medical Network - Martin Lockley
This interesting and pleasingly illustrated book...is a timely reminder that all creatures great and small are co-habitants of the biosphere of which we are an integral part... Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of History is full of interesting facts, and Chaline shows a sense of balance in selecting those most pertinent to the biological, medicinal, cultural and historical importance of his protagonists. Thus, one is sure to learn an assortment of factoids... Fifty Animals reminds us of our relationships with our biosphere brothers and sisters, and the delicate balance this all entails.
Quarterly Review of Biology - John B. Jenkins
This is a fun read. Each animal has its own section and each section is anywhere from two (Dodo, Carp and Cochineal) to eight pages (Human) in length. Chaline's book is visually pleasing...There are some striking photographs and drawings that highlight each section. Wide margins provide space for informational boxes... Special interest boxes...present some intriguing aspect of the animal's contribution to history... I admire Chaline's attempt to create and justify such an interesting and thought-provoking list... It is well written and a pleasure to read.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554078974
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/11/2011
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 783,394
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Chaline is a journalist and writer and has published titles on philosophy, including The Book of Zen and The Book of Gods, and on history, including Traveler's Guide to the Ancient World: Ancient Greece, History's Worst Inventions, History's Greatest Deceptions and History's Worst Predictions. He now lives and works in London, England, where he is conducting doctoral research in sociology at South Bank University.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

Mosquito
Honeybee
Common Minke Whale
American Buffalo
Spiny Dye-Murex
Silkworm
Cow
Wolf
Dog
Goat
North American Beaver
North Atlantic Herring
Pigeon
Carp
Cochineal
Fruit Fly
Donkey
Horse
Falcon
Cat
Atlantic Cod
Chicken
Darwin's Finches
Bald Eagle
Leech
Iguanodon
Llama
Elephant
Earthworm
Spanish Fly
Turkey
Cobra
Common Rabbit
Sheep
Chimpanzee
Lion
Louse
Seal
Oyster
Bat
Reindeer

Dodo
Rat
Scarab Beetle
Desert Locust
Schistosome
Pig
Oriental Rat Flea
Human

Further Reading
Index
Image Credits

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