Whatever side of the vivisection debate you are on, this book is worth reading and paying attention to. "The Monkey Wars" calls attention to the need for discussion and understanding between researchers and animal-rights activists - something that is rarely happening. Intolerance, she shows, is leading to much suffering - both human and animal - and it is rife among both communities.
The idea that scientists who experiment on animals are all foaming-at-the-mouth maniacs, cackling and eager to cause suffering with their array of sharp instruments may occasionally be nearly true (see the sections on Harry Harlow). But Blum's book says that the majority of vivisectionists are dedicated to working for the good of people - at the cost of other animals (in this case, non-human primates). They believe this is fully acceptable - humans take priority and we must do what we can to help our own. Here lies the real debate - what gives us the right to inflict this suffering on these animals for the 'good' of mankind? What makes it acceptable? And how much good does it really do us, anyway?
Animal rights activists generally think it's NOT accaptable, and many doubt that much of it has any merit after all (see the chapter on baboon-human organ transplants). They (we) have a horrible reputation amongst researchers, so much so that at the first mention of 'animal rights' causes many of these people to close their ears and eyes and hum a silly tune until it's all over. While there HAVE been cases of pointless destruction and horrible threats to researchers in 'defense' of lab animals, the majority of animal activists are peaceful, reasonable people who want to ease suffering - including that of humans - not cause more.
Through a series of articles about and interviews with a whole spectrum of people involved, Blum shows us both sides of this sometimes hopeless 'debate' - and she does show us some hope as well. There are people on either side of the fence willing to listen and work with those who may not see things in exactly the same light. What's important, "The Monkey Wars" shows, is that we all be willing to listen to and consider others' arguments before making assumptions about the intentions of 'the other side'. This may not solve the entire debate and wipe out all suffering on earth - but it's a step in the right direction.