A tendentious but enjoyable book for dog lovers.



Prolific animal-studies author Masson (The Face On Your Plate: The Truth About Food, 2009, etc.) examines the unique bond between dogs and humans.

Based upon evidence that the relationship has existed for at least 40,000 years, the author suggests that it played a major part in a process of “mutual domestication,” the simultaneous evolution of primitive humans to Homo sapiens and of wolves to canines. According to Stanford anthropologist Richard Klein, writes the author, humans experienced a “sociocultural big bang” around 50,000 years ago, when “language, culture, and the ability to innovate” were suddenly put on “fast-forward,” and Masson believes that the two species were drawn together by a shared unique capacity for love. Now approaching 70, the author lives in a New Zealand beach house with his wife, two young sons, three cats and Benjy, the golden lab to whom this book is dedicated and whose antics provide its framework. Unquestionably, dogs are an important part of our lives and have been for millennia. More disputable is Masson’s claim that their relationship to stone-age man as guard dogs, hunting companions or even perhaps a manageable source of food was less important compared to the “far more profound…effect dogs had on our ability to feel love, affection, and friendship.” Equally controversial is his suggestion that dogs are superior to chimpanzees, parrots and dolphins in understanding human language. The author is more even-handed in his consideration of the possibility that seeing-eye, narcotics-sniffing and rescue dogs may not understand the purpose of their actions they’ve been trained to perform, while acknowledging the benefits of their spontaneous companionship to the handicapped, the sick and the elderly.

A tendentious but enjoyable book for dog lovers.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-177109-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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