Pets in America

Pets in America : A History

3.47 (65 ratings by Goodreads)
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When did America become so obsessed with its pets? It wasn't as recently as you might think. In fact, as Katherine C. Grier shows us in this lively social history, Americans have a long and abiding fascination with their furry, feathery, and sometimes scaly friends.Pets in America is the first comprehensive, thoroughly entertaining account of our long history of animal keeping. From White House gerbils to Mrs. Ralph Waldo Emerson's many cats, from drug-sniffing dogs to celebrity horses, from pet food to training to birdcages to art to cemeteries--no aspect of pet culture is left unexplored.Peppered with the warmth and humor of anecdotes from period diaries, letters, catalogs, and newspapers, Pets in America is also packed with more than one hundred whimsical pieces of pet Americana--illustrations and photographs of all of man's best friends. Pets in America is fun social history for a popular audience and pet lovers everywhere.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 134.62 x 203.2 x 25.4mm | 453.59g
  • United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0156031760
  • 9780156031769
  • 2,196,330

Flap copy

In this portrait of Americans' relationships with the cats, dogs, birds, fishes, rodents, and other animals we call our own, Grier shows how the history of pets has evolved alongside changing ideas about human nature, child development, and community life. She focuses particularly on the period between 1840 and 1940, when the emotional, behavioral, and commercial characteristics of contemporary pet keeping were established. Includes 100 illustrations.
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Back cover copy

Americans love their pets! And our obsession with these furry, feathery, and sometimes scaly friends didn't start as recently as you might think. Open the first-ever history of pets in America and see for yourself what extraodinary devotion pet-keeping Americans have shown for centuries.
[fun facts to arrange in a whimsical manner, as was done on the Girl Sleuth cover]
Teddy Roosevelt's White House held guinea pigs, birds, dogs, cats, one young bear, a badger named Josiah, snakes, and a Shetland pony named Algonquin, who once rode in the White House elevator. P. T. Barnum hosted one of America's first dog shows--the Great National Dog Show--in 1862. Posh Americans kept young deer as pets in the early 1800s. Mark Twain--cat lover extraordinaire--used to walk around with a cat named Lazy draped across his shoulders like a stole. Sallie Ann Jarret--a bull terrier--was killed in action alongside the 11th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers during the Civil War. She is commemorated by a life-sized statue at Gettysburg National Military Park.

KATHERINE C. GRIER is a professor of material culture studies and director of research programs at the Winterthur Museum and a visiting professor of history at the University of Delaware. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware, and Onancock, Virginia, with her husband, two cats, and two dogs.
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Review quote

PRAISE FOR PETS IN AMERICA"[Grier] probe[s] not just our changing notions about animals but our changing definition of a good society . . . Very entertaining."--THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW"This work explores the history of animal-human bonding in the context of a growing country with a diverse population . . . If the well-written prose is not enough, the illustrations provide a telling accent."--BLOOMSBURY REVIEW
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Rating details

65 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 17% (11)
4 35% (23)
3 32% (21)
2 9% (6)
1 6% (4)
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