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Beyond Beef: the Rise & Fall of Cattle Culture (Plume) Paperback – 25 Mar 1993

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Paperback, 25 Mar 1993

Product details

  • Paperback: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (25 Mar 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452269520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452269521
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,430,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Several millennia before the birth of Christ a powerful king emerged among the peoples of the Nile river. Read the first page
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Diana on 13 Sep 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Shocking book, I think everyone should read it. I also read Eating animals. Books both in good shape, thank you
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Amazon.com: 16 reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Buildup Of the History of Beef Culture 31 May 2002
By Jonah B. Manning - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The first portion of Beyond Beef is a great description of the history of beef consumption and beef culture. Some of the more interesting parts to me were the sections dealing with the Brahmans in India as well as the near extinction of the American buffalo as a result of clearing the plains for bovine grazing.
After building the historical place of beef and cattle, Rifkin moves the story to present day and how beef is produced, butchered, packaged and shipped. Some of this section was particularly difficult to read during lunch, the descriptions of the slaughtering process are graphic and very detailed. Rifkin also explains the decreasing involvement of the USDA in the inspection of beef and the potential implications of this fact.
Other parts of the book which were informative to me were the chapters dealing with the destruction of the Brazilian rainforests. I, like most young Americans, have heard for years about the clear cutting and burning of the South American rainforests but never knew the details of this activity or exactly why the forests were being leveled. Rifkin explains this practice clearly and I am much more informed because of it.
Overall, Beyond Beef is an excellent read and if nothing else, will give you a great deal to ponder. It is clearly written with a slant against beef production and consumption and can come off a bit preachy at times. That being said, after you read this book, you will definitely want to pass it along to your friends and family, if for no other reason than to let them be informed when they bite into that burger.
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Beef facts you should know 9 Feb 2002
By Elizabeth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It was in reading Beyond Beef : The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture by Jeremy Rifkin years ago that I had a better idea of what I was seeing around San Joaquin County in Northern California as I drove around the dairies that stood close to the San Joaquin River and reeked of ammonia and manure dust in the air on windy days that left ones car and lungs dusted with a fine film. The cattle and their massive manure piles , are less than 30 yards from the San Joaquin River. Now consider some basic facts. Cattle produce a large amount of urine as it is. Now take one cow and multiply it by 100, 200 even 500. Now visualize all that urine going into the ground, where when it rains it soaks deeper and in dispensed into the small leech veins in the ground that in turn hook up with larger areas that feed into ground water and the river. Then look at the massive manure piles that dots the area and hang a clean white piece of clothe on your car antenna as well as a tree branch or whatever in the back yard. Then after you have driven around check the antenna clothe. After its been breezy check the clothe in the back yard. Then if you have the micro filters on you home air conditioner recheck them as well. What you will discover is pollution that has literally changed the white clothe-filter to either a light brown or a dark brown. Now consider what this manure dust does to your lungs.
If you are reading this review then you have access to a computer. Take the time to do some honest unbiased research online and see how much water and grain it takes to produce one pound of meat. Then see how much better it would be if the land was used to produce better food for humans. Find out what pollution factory farms that raise cattle, chickens, pork, lamb etc produce as well as how inhumane the animals are treated. Also find out what drugs they use on the animals, that are then killed for food on your table. Be honest and ask yourself the hard questions. And if you must for whatever reason eat beef, chickens etc please buy organically grown ones that are not fed drugs and even byproducts of other animals. I am a realist and realize that we live in a meat eating society. So all I can do is ask that you know what you are buying and how it was raised and what the product has done to the earths ecosystem.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beyond Beef, Rifkin. 26 Mar 2007
By Wesley L. Janssen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was an important book in the early 1990s, and although the thesis demands our attention now more than ever, it is still generally ignored, perhaps in small part because Rifkin's book is not at all perfect. The first third is the author's 'abridged' version of the entire human-bovine history, and the critical reader will have ample cause to question many broad assertions in Rifkin's sweeping saga, especially in the early chapters. I must agree with an earlier reviewer who rightly describes Rifkin's 'historical' generalizations and selected references as being "a mile wide and an inch deep." It is unfortunate, but this stylized yarn-weaving detracts somewhat from critical assent when Rifkin finally approaches the 'meat' of the thesis in chapter 15.

There are many excellent points made when Rifkin finally makes room for them (parts 3-6), but the quality of his reference sources continues to be dubious in some, though certainly not all, instances. The book finally hits its stride and makes its import observations in parts 4 (Feeding Cattle and Starving People) and 5 (Cattle and the Global Environmental Crisis). If the information here doesn't direct the reader toward a vegetarian lifestyle (or at least to rethinking the centrality of meat in his/her diet), he or she may be a pretty hardened case of wanton self-indulgence and thoughtless hedonism. We must hope that sometime soon, western consumers might become as interested in the welfare of human beings and of our entire planetary home, as they are in self-pleasuring. In fact, the reader may want to read this portion of the book only (chapters 22-32) before moving on to a better book -- MAD COWBOY: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat, by Howard F. Lyman.

Depending on the crop, plants can provide 5 to 26 times as much protein per any given unit of land, than can beef. In 1984, when thousands of people were dying for lack of food in famine-ravaged Ethiopia, feed crops produced there were being shipped to livestock producers in Europe! The affluent 'first world' continues to orchestrate, in large part, the starvation of hundreds of millions of the worlds poorest people, and does so in a way not only embarrassingly decadent, but demonstrably stupid: "In 1917 the Allied Powers threw a naval blockade around the German-occupied territories of northern Europe. The Danish people were particularly hard hit by the blockade. With its normal food supply routes cut, the Danish government was forced to enact a rationing program based on increasing the intake of potatoes and barley and virtually eliminating meat. Overnight, some three million Danes were turned into vegetarians, with some interesting results. During the year of rationing, the death rate from disease fell by 34 percent." p170. This was cited in the journal of the AMA.

Interesting stuff, but read Lyman's book instead.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Better Books out there 1 Aug 2006
By CJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The problem I have with this book, as well as a lot of other Rifkin's books, it's not the message that is being conveyed, it's how it's being conveyed. Rifkin's research style is a mile wide and an inch deep. I pined to have some of the chapters be at least a couple pages longer so there was more substance. He makes wide, sweeping generalizations with the minimum of hard data to back it up.

That, in addition to this book now being well over a decade old, makes me very reluctant to recommend. There are better, newer books that have the same point of view that are better written. And this is coming from a reviewer who has not eaten beef since 1997.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great book 26 Feb 2004
By smoothsoul - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There's not much to add to what's already been said. I just want to echo the praise... It's a formidable book - scholarly and persuasive; it's a fascinating history. It's also a very easy book to read, one you won't regret reading: it's eye-opening.
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