The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History

Bloomsbury. Apr. 2015. 304p. photos. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781620405727. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781620405741. HIST
OrangeReviewStarProlific writer and scholar Fagan (emeritus, anthropology, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Beyond the Blue Horizon) takes the reader on a journey from the prehistoric era to Victorian England to reveal the ever-shifting dynamic between animals and humans. He focuses on humankind's relationship with eight animals in particular: dogs, goats, sheep, pigs, cattle, donkeys, horses, and camels (with plenty of fascinating anecdotes and sidebars about other types of creatures, such as cats, included). The result of Fagan's exhaustive research is thought provoking and at times heartrending. The author skillfully traces the arc of human-animal relationships from ancient partners in survival to the master-servant dynamic we still see today despite the efforts of animal-rights activists. In later chapters, he points out that at certain times and places in history, social class played a role in how animals were viewed. For example, the pampered purebred dogs of the higher classes were treated as beloved pets, while the mongrels of the lower classes were considered dirty and dangerous.
VERDICT History, anthropology, and cultural studies enthusiasts will enjoy this excellent, intelligent book, as will animal lovers of all stripes.
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