Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of History

Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of History


By (author) Eric Chaline

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  • Publisher: FIREFLY BOOKS
  • Format: Hardback | 223 pages
  • Dimensions: 173mm x 229mm x 23mm | 703g
  • Publication date: 11 August 2011
  • ISBN 10: 1554078970
  • ISBN 13: 9781554078974
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations, colour illustrations
  • Sales rank: 487,883

Product description

"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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Author information

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.

Review quote

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.--John B. Jenkins, Biology, Swarthmore College, Swar"Quarterly Review of Biology" (12/01/2012)