by John Bradshaw ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 10, 2013
A useful guide to help cat lovers better understand their elusive pets.
A cat-loving anthrozoologist probes “the cat's true nature.”
Bradshaw (Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, 2011) worries about the future of domestic cats, “the most popular pet in the world today.” Until recently, their tendency to hunt small prey, such as mice and snakes, has added to their value for homeowners, overshadowing their predatory behavior toward small animals and birds. Not so today, as the decline of wild species has become an increasing concern. Historically, dogs and cats have been valued for different qualities, and their paths to domestication were also different. Dogs evolved from relatively tame wolves that lived in packs. They readily worked in tandem with humans as hunters, herders and guard dogs. Cats evolved from solitary, wild cats that defended their own territories. The author traces their domestication to the Middle East and the agrarian revolution. As grains were stored, house mice evolved to take advantage of the food supply, and cats were attracted by the opportunity to hunt the mice. They were valued as exterminators, but their kittens were adopted as pets. Bradshaw contends that although urban house cats are affectionate and can appear more independent and easier to manage, owners frequently do not pay sufficient attention to their socialization. While dogs befriend unrelated dogs, cats do not; therefore, the author suggests that, if possible, two cats from the same litter be placed together. Since their access to the outdoors is being increasingly restricted and, in urban environments, cats are no longer needed to control mice, it is important to provide them with companionship and an enriched play environment.A useful guide to help cat lovers better understand their elusive pets.
Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Basic Books
Review Posted Online: June 29, 2013
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013
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A quirky wonder of a book.
A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.
Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.A quirky wonder of a book.
Pub Date: April 14, 2020
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020
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by Bill Bryson ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2003
Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...
Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.
As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.
Pub Date: May 6, 2003
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003
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