Entertaining and informative, Pets in America is a portrait of Americans' relationships with the cats, dogs, birds, fishes, rodents, and other animals we call our own. More than 60 percent of U.S. households have pets, and America grows more pet-friendly every day. But as Katherine Grier demonstrates, the ways we talk about and treat our pets - as companions, as children, and as objects of beauty, status, or pleasure - have their origins long ago.
Grier begins with a natural history of animals as pets, then discusses the changing role of pets in family life, new standards of animal welfare, the problems presented by borderline cases such as livestock pets, and the marketing of both animals and pet products. She focuses particularly on the period between 1840 and 1940, when the emotional, behavioral, and commercial characteristics of contemporary pet keeping were established. This audiobook is peppered with the warmth and humor of anecdotes from period diaries, letters, catalogs, and newspapers.
Pets in America ultimately shows how the history of pets has evolved alongside changing ideas about human nature, child development, and community life. This audiobook accompanied a museum exhibit, "Pets in America," which opened at the McKissick Museum in Columbia, South Carolina, in December 2005 and travelled to five other cities from May 2006 through May 2008.
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Enjoyable but not definitive.
This is an interesting book about a fascinating subject - the anthropology of pet keeping in the West, and in the US in particular. Grier tells a good story, and the tone is very engaging, but the subject deserves more depth and breadth of research.
Elisa Carlson's reading is highly professional, almost to the point of being slightly robotic, and occasionally sounds as though she has 'lost' the meaning of the sentence she's narrating. I found this slightly distracting, but it did not spoil the book for me.
Clearly, the history of pet keeping is a huge subject, and one which will hopefully be properly covered by an anthropologist at some point in the future. As it stands, this book is a fairly superficial social history by a non-expert, who throws in a few anecdotes for good measure. Enjoyable, and an easy and sometimes amusing listen.
- Nodger's Bottle