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Dead Meat

Dead Meat

4.5 2
by Sue Coe, Alexander Cockburn (Illustrator)

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Gehr

It's easy to understand artist Sue Coe's aversion to meat. Raised next door to a Liverpool slaughterhouse, she consumed cold lard sandwiches for breakfast and recited mind-numbing Bible passages in school, eventually escaping into the "malignant fantasy world" of her art. Dead Meat documents with paintings, drawings and notes the six years Coe spent surreptitiously researching slaughterhouses in pursuit of what has become forbidden knowledge: the grisly details of the process by which some six billion warm-blooded creatures find their way onto American plates each year.

"The Bible," begins Alexander Cockburn's beefy introductory essay, "is a meat-eater's manifesto." Cockburn blames Cartesian thought and manifest destiny for the swift transformation of the teeming wildlife ecologies -- from California to the Amazon region -- into denuded cattle pastures. Industrial capitalism's frenzied animal slaughter had a strong impact on the world's most famous vegetarian, Adolph Hitler: "For the Nazis their death camps were, in a way, romanticism's revenge for the abattoirs and the hogsqueal of the universe as echoing from the Union Stockyards of Chicago." Cockburn is less empurpled when describing the substantial influence wielded by the hog and chicken industries on contemporary American politics.

Coe's bleak art -- ranging from heart-wrenching portraits of "downed" animals, swinging carcasses and faceless workers, to satirically symbolic paintings in the tradition of Hogarth -- lacks the visceral impact of, for example, George Franju's brutal 1949 documentary about a Paris abattoir, Le Sang des Bêtes. On the other hand, her gut-wrenching eyewitness descriptions of the torturous storage and transport, slaughter, dismemberment and disposal of animals -- live chicks plowed into the ground as fertilizer! -- justifies her characterization of the process as nothing more nor less than the decimation of a life form. Only mad cows and Englishmen could persist in gorging themselves mindlessly on dead mammals after viewing this particular death industry through Coe's infuriated eyes. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Political artist Coe spent years visiting slaughterhouses and meat farms in the U.S., Canada and England, all the while drawing and writing about what she saw. The result is a fascinating and revealing portrait of the institutions behind the meat we eat. Coe's illustrations, which appear regularly in such publications as the New York Times and the New Yorker, have the sharply lined, affecting realism of a Diego Rivera mural. Her first-person account is matter-of-fact, thoughtful and engaging. Coe's book is political, and she clearly hopes it will make readers think twice about what they put into their mouths, but she does not preach and is unafraid to confront her own complicity: "Every dollar I get drips with blood too," she writes. Her empathetic rendering of the workers she encounters is reminiscent of Studs Terkel at his best, and the parallels she draws between society's treatment of meat animals and its working classes are disturbing and convincing. Cockburn's introductory essay traces the history of the meat industry with his customary shrewd sociopolitical insight, but without falling into polemics. Dead Meat will appeal not just to those interested in animal rights, but to anyone who cares about how society functions. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Librarians and others prone to categorization may have difficulty pigeonholing British American political artist Coe, who defies strict definition as either a fine artist or illustrator, painter or printmaker. Her powerful, expressionistic illustrations depicting various progressive subjects, including South Africa, AIDS, and poverty, have appeared in mass-circulation periodicals as well as in major art museums. Here Coe -- a vegetarian -- tackles the injustices found in the meat industry in a visual and textual update of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle -- a culmination of six years of traveling around the country visiting meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses. Radical journalist Alexander Cockburn provides historical context in the introduction; but one wishes for some art historical context as well (Goya and Daumier come immediately to mind). Still, this is essential for illustration and special art libraries; Coe's Paintings and Drawings (Scarecrow, 1985) offers a more varied sampling for general collections.Heidi Winston, NYPL
A gritty look in about 125 harrowing expressionist drawings (43 in color), and accompanying text, at the incomparably cruel (for the animals) and dehumanizing (for the workers) netherworld of slaughterhouses, meat farms, feedlots, and hatcheries that comprise the meat industry. With an essay by Alexander Cockburn. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

Running Press Book Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.42(w) x 10.32(h) x 0.74(d)
1110L (what's this?)

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Dead Meat 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
According to the website, the University of New Mexico DOES have an Animal Science department.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want an uplift, a feeling that all is not lost, then the book to read is DEAD MEAT. How vividly I could see young Mitch timidly entering his new school for the first time and how passionately I could feel the struggles that he encounters in that situation. In today's uncertain world, I imagine this situation happens all too often. How can gang control be upliftging? The strain of good vs evil comes through loud and clear as young people grasp for any straw to maintain sanity and life in this real world, inching step-by-step into the unknown with false ideas about how far one young man can go. Good wins and clear heads prevail in a manner that we all hope can encapsulate this world. It is easy and fast reading, high interest and real life situations that face young people today.