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Perfect Harmony: The Intertwining Lives of Animals and Humans Throughout History
     

Perfect Harmony: The Intertwining Lives of Animals and Humans Throughout History

by Roger Caras
 
A history of animals throughout the ages. The author explains how animals have played a vital role in humankind's evolutionary course, aiming to enhance the reader's perception of history, the human species, and the sentient creatures with whom we share the planet.

Overview

A history of animals throughout the ages. The author explains how animals have played a vital role in humankind's evolutionary course, aiming to enhance the reader's perception of history, the human species, and the sentient creatures with whom we share the planet.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Caras views humanity's ascent from Stone Age hunter-gatherers to modern apartment-dwelling cat- and dog-owners as inextricably woven with animals. As beasts of burden, means of transport, protein source, animals made possible agricultural surpluses, triggered cultural cross-pollination, facilitated the invention of wheeled vehicles, roads, languages. Moreover, our intense personal interaction with animals refined human emotions. Sheep breeding in Mesopotamia, reindeer as spiritual companions to Norse shamans, pet dogs in ancient Greece and Japan, swan-keeping in 10th-century Britain and diverse cultures' relationships with birds, horses, camels, cows, goats, fish, bees, elephants, ferrets and other creatures are elucidated as bestselling animal authority Caras, president of the ASPCA, skillfully blends history, zoology, folklore and anecdote. He writes with deep reverence for the animal kingdom, and this delightful, enlightening book, beautifully illustrated with sensitive, detailed drawings, will enhance one's perception of history, the human species and the sentient creatures with whom we share the planet. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Humanity's relationship with animals both domestic and wild is a topic not often discussed as a part of history. It is a vital aspect of human history, however, as the domestication of animals had a monumental impact on human affairs, making much of human progress possible-exploration, travel, agriculture, and the birth of industry. Caras is the current president of the ASPCA as well as a prolific author of articles and books on pets and wildlife. Here he offers a unique, and sometimes surprising, discussion of our continuing life with animals. Devoting each chapter to a particular species-goats, sheep, dogs, cattle, elephants, etc.-he introduces the reader to the unique characteristics of each species and gives a brief history of its development. The book is well written and researched and is logically organized. As there is little literature on this topic, A Perfect Harmony will be of interest both to curious lay readers and scholars in the field.-Deborah Emerson, Monroe Community Coll., Rochester, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
An informative, insightful, though also rather dry history of animal domestication through the ages, by ASPCA president Caras, author of numerous fine works on pets and wildlife (The Cats of Thistle Hill, 1994, etc.).

As Caras defines it, domestication is "the shaping of a species by man, using selective breeding to replace natural selection." In studiously reviewing the origins and probable methods of domestication, as well as the ancestry of all manner of animals, from goats and horses in the Stone Age to camels and elephants around 4000 b.c., to ferrets and cats in more recent years, Caras explains how "animals have played a vital role in man's evolutionary course." For example, having a ready supply of goats at hand allowed humans to travel in desert and mountain areas for the first time, and also enabled the once-nomadic human race "to feed ever-growing concentrations of people, allowing towns and later cities to grow." And the Industrial Revolution was spawned at least in part, says Caras, by the huge flocks of sheep that grazed in Europe at the beginning of the 18th century, providing both wealth and wool to fuel the change. Along the way, though, there have been numerous downsides to domestication. The very goat that "led man out of the darkness of the cave . . . has today, by the billions, stripped the vegetation off the land and changed the face of continents." And feral animals—domesticated species that have wound up back in the wild—have wreaked havoc on wildlife in many areas of the world. Throughout, Caras is steadfast in repeating a specific moral message: that domesticated animals are generally treated cruelly though they give us much, and that we need to be more caring and compassionate toward them.

A conglomeration of fact, lore, and speculation, of primary interest to the natural history buff rather than the usual Caras followers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781557532411
Publisher:
Purdue University Press
Publication date:
01/01/2002
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
271
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

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