So fair-minded it might actually appeal to both sides in the contentious meat-eating debate.




Contemplative examination of contemporary dairy farming and the hidden support systems for our carnivorous habits.

Journalist and professional mediator Lovenheim purchased three dairy calves and observed their lives from birth onward. He got the idea after watching his children play with cow-shaped Beanie Babies while cheerfully eating grilled beef in their McDonald’s Happy Meals, and this sort of picaresque irony pervades his project as he examines the disconnect in American culture about where food comes from and his own assumptions about the dairy industry. Lovenheim acquired the calves from Lawnel Farms in the Genessee River valley town of York, home to a large concentration of New York State’s dairy farms, and boarded them with a nearby farmer, Peter Vongolis. Closely watching Lawnel’s 500-cow dairy operation and Vongolis’s animal husbandry, Lovenheim achieves a detailed understanding of contemporary dairy farming, demystifying for the reader everything from the artificial insemination of cows with genetically desirable semen to high-tech approaches towards feed and milk production. He ultimately discerns less cruelty and dark ambiguity than he’d initially feared. The narrative’s most successful passages are its strong, nuanced portraits of the York farming community and the people raising his calves. Lovenheim develops paternal feelings and curiosity about the animals, which clouds his resolve to not interfere; he overplays this angle with constant meditation on his project’s ramifications, leading to some repetitious and spacey prose on the order of, say, “If my calf is thinking, what is he thinking on this cold day?” That said, this is a thorough, evenhanded view of a maligned industry. Lovenheim offsets the grim realities of the slaughterhouse with the technical achievement, skill, and effort of dairy farmers and other workers in the enormous infrastructure that feeds America. He offers a restrained endorsement of dairy farming’s current state, yet donates his own calves to an animal sanctuary.

So fair-minded it might actually appeal to both sides in the contentious meat-eating debate.

Pub Date: July 16, 2002

ISBN: 0-609-60591-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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