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This Month's Recommendation: My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell

The book is the view of Gerald Durrell, aged 10 at the start of the saga, of his family, pets and life during a five-year sojourn on the island of Corfu. The book is divided into three sections, marking the three villas in which the family lived on the island. Apart from Gerald (the youngest) and Larry, the family comprised their vague widowed mother, the gun-mad Leslie, and diet-obsessed sister Margo together with Roger the dog. They are fiercely protected by their driver Spiro (Spyros "Americano" Chalikiopoulos) and mentored by the polymath Dr Theodore Stephanides who provides Gerald with his education in natural history. Other human characters, chiefly eccentric, include Gerald's private tutors, the artistic visitors Larry invites to stay, and the local peasants who befriend the family.

The human comedy is interspersed by descriptions of the animal life which Gerald observes on his expeditions around the family homes, island, and seashore and which he frequently brings back and keeps as pets; these include Achilles the tortoise, Quasimodo the pigeon, Ulysses the Scops owl, numerous spiders, Alecko the gull, puppies named Widdle and Puke, and the birds known as the Magenpies.


Animal Rights, Cass R. Sunstein
Millions of people live with cats, dogs, and other pets, which they treat as members of their families. But through their daily behavior, people who love those pets, and greatly care about their welfare, help ensure short and painful lives for millions, even billions of animals that cannot easily be distinguished from dogs and cats. Today, the overwhelming percentage of animals with whom Westerners interact are raised for food. Countless animals endure lives of relentless misery and die often torturous deaths. The use of animals by human beings, often for important human purposes, has forced uncomfortable questions to center stage: Should people change their behavior? Should the law promote animal welfare? Should animals have legal rights? Should animals continue to be counted as 'property'? What reforms make sense? Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum bring together an all-star cast of contributors to explore the legal and political issues that underlie the campaign for animal rights and the opposition to it. Addressing ethical questions about ownership, protection against unjustified suffering, and the ability of animals to make their own choices free from human control, the authors offer numerous different perspectives on animal rights and animal welfare. They show that whatever one's ultimate conclusions, the relationship between human beings and nonhuman animals is being fundamentally rethought. This book offers a state-of-the-art treatment of that rethinking.


The Lives of Animals, J.M. Coetzee

The idea of human cruelty to animals so consumes novelist Elizabeth Costelloa that she can no longer look another person in the eye: humans, especially meat-eating ones, seem to her to be conspirators in a crime of stupefying magnitude. Here the internationally renowned writer J.M. Coetzee uses fiction to present a powerfully moving discussion of animal rights in all their complexity. Coetzee’s text is accompanied by an introduction by political philosopher Amu Gutmann and responsive essays by religion scholar Wendy Doniger, primatologist Barbara Smuts, literary theorist Marjorie Garber, and moral philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation.


The Animals’ Lawsuit Against Humanity, Rabbi Anson Laytner

In this interfaith and multicultural fable, eloquent representatives of all members of the animal kingdom—from horses to bees—come before the respected Spirit King to complain of the dreadful treatment they have suffered at the hands of humankind. During the ensuing trial, where both humans and animals testify before the King, both sides argue their points ingeniously, deftly illustrating the validity of both sides of the ecology debate. The ancient antecedents of this tale are thought to have originated in India, with the first written version penned in Arabic sometime before the 10th century in what is now Iraq. Much later, this version of the story was translated into Hebrew in 14th century France and was popular in European Jewish communities into the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This exquisite English translation, illustrated with 12 original color illumination plates, is useful in introducing young and old alike to environmental and animal rights issues.


Through a Window, Jane Goodall

Through a Window is the dramatic saga of thirty years in the life of a community, of birth and death, sex and love, power and war. It reads like a novel, but it is one of the most important scientific works ever published. The community is Gombe, on the shores of lake Tanganyika, where the principal residents are chimpanzees and one extraordinary woman who is their student, protector, and historian. In her classic in the Shadow of Man, Jane Goodall wrote of her first ten years at Gombe. In Through a Window she paints a much more comoplete and vivid portrait of our closest relative. We see the community split in two and a brutal war break out. We watch young Figan’s relentless rise to power and old Mike’s crushing defeat. We learn how one mother rears her children to succeed and another dooms them to failure. We witness horrifying murders, touching moments of affection, joyous births, and wrenching deaths. In short, we see every emotion known to humans reflected in the mirror of chimpanzee life.
Perhaps the best book ever written about animal behavior, Through the Window is also essential reading for anyone seeking a better grasp of human behavior.


The Animal World of the Pharaos, Patrick F. Houlihan

Animals of all kinds were hugely important to the ancient Egyptians, in their daily lives and work, in their leisure and religious practices. Some animals served as sources of food, others provided labour in the farmyards and field, some were quarry in the hunt, others were companions at home, and a great many enjoyed vital associations with the gods and goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon. This title examines all aspects of the relationship between people and animals in art and hieroglyphs. It draws not only on the extremely rich pictorial record, but also on evidence from textual references, mummified animals, food offerings placed in burials and bone remains recovered from settlement sites.


Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog , John Grogan

The heartwarming and unforgettable story of a family in the making and the wondrously neurotic dog who taught them what really matters in life.


When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson & Susan McCarthy
For over 100 years a chasm has separated animal lovers-who know that their dog, cat, horse, or parrot have complex emotional lives - and scientists, to whom attributing any emotions to animals has been equivalent to heresy. And while a groundswell among a new generation of scientists has begun chipping away at this traditional taboo, and animal lovers eagerly consume whatever they can find about the subject, no one book has yet gathered all the available information into an engaging and authoritative portrait of animals emotional lives. Not, that is, until now.

With chapters on love, joy, anger, fear, shame, compassion, and loneliness, all framed by a provocative reevaluation of how we treat animals, When Elephants Weep is the first book since Darwin's time to explore the full range of emotions throughout the animal kingdom, and it features a cast of hundreds. Meet Siri, the Indian elephant, whose impressive sketches have been praised by artists Willem and Elaine de Kooning. Meet Koko, a bashful gorilla proficient ins sign language who loves to play house with dolls-but only when no one is looking - and Michael, another signing gorilla, who cannot be disturbed whenever Pavarotti sings on television. Then there's Moja, the joyful mongoose who waltzes with squirrels; Toto, the steadfast chimpanzee who literally nursed his malaria-stricken human observer back to health; and Alex, an African gray parrot with an astonishing vocabulary, who, when left at the veterinarian's office, shrieked, "Come here! I love you. I'm sorry. I want to go back."

By contrast, you'll also meet scores of biologists, ethnologists, and animal behaviorists whose anecdote-rich field notes and studies paint compelling portraits of their subject's rich emotional lives, yet whose conclusions frequently appear as fancy footwork around the obvious. When Elephants Weep also draws upon the illuminating experiences of animal trainers - from Sea World and the Ringling Bros. circus to Guide Dogs for the Blind - and is sprinkled with insights from pet owners, literature, myth, and fable to create a riveting and revolutionary portrayal of animal's lives that will permanently change and enrich the way you look at animals.


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