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Brian Griffith (Toronto, Canada)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete but excellently done, 15 Oct 2012
This is a well explained and excellently illustrated guide to the evolution of agriculture across the planet. Leonard's analyses of the steps needed to domesticate wheat, corn, goats or dogs are detailed, clear, and insightful. Of course a lot of information has been added since this book came out, especially concerning Old Europe and China. From our present view this account is clearly incomplete, but it's still excellent as far as it goes.


Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals (P.S.)
Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals (P.S.)
by Hal Herzog
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethics where there is no consensus, 13 Oct 2012
In all the great stories about animals Herzog offers, the entertainment value takes a back seat to ethical consideration. There's the ethics of cock fighting compared to the ethics of factory farming chickens. The ethics of laboratory testing on animals compared to the ethics of meat packing plants. The ethics of all the former vegetarians, the dog breeders, or the cultural quirks over which animals are considered pets, or food, or enemies to be exterminated from the face of the earth. Herzog explores the dilemmas, finding there's clearly no consensus on morality towards animals. It's a discussion somewhere near the frontier edge of moral awareness.


The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing and Publishing)
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing and Publishing)
by Carol Fisher Saller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The social smarts in editing, 18 Sep 2012
Looking beyond the printed page, Saller offers her experience dealing with the people issues, the organizational problems, the priority setting or the negotiating skills needed to stay sane in an editing career. In general, she's a force for greater social and emotional intelligence in the field.


Living Through the End of Nature
Living Through the End of Nature
by Paul Wapner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ecology after the human-nature wall collapsed, 17 Sep 2012
Wapner makes a good, helpful argument. Stop trying to keep nature and humanity in separate but competing compartments, because we already co-exist in every compartment. Instead, figure out how to co-exist in a more mutually beneficial way. The argument could be made more briefly and simply, but Wapner must deal with the complexities of passionate positions of environmentalists past and present. He must show that he understands their arguments, so he briefly recaps the discourses of nature protectionists, be they dark green, light green, or brown. He even shows real understanding for advocates of technological mastery over nature. The aim is to harmonize all insights into a greater, more subtle, less ideological quest for a better shared future.

The book is done to reconcile differences in North America's environmental movement. It's a movemental insider's talking paper, not a popular appeal book. It could use more examples and fewer well-crafted articulations of theory. But maybe this is the kind of book that makes a real difference for those most involved.


Humans and Other Animals: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Human-Animal Interactions (Anthropology, Culture and Society)
Humans and Other Animals: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Human-Animal Interactions (Anthropology, Culture and Society)
by Samantha Hurn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The range of our animal-relations issues, 16 Sep 2012
Hurn pushes the bounds of culture across species lines, and helps introduce the world to anthrozoology. She discusses our boundaries and friendships with animals, our choices to eat, kill, or idolize them. She covers our reactions to cross-species diseases, and "zoopharmacognosy" (or how people have learned about medicinal plants by watching animals self-medicate their illnesses). She includes a totally objective discussion of sexual relations between humans and other animals. The book touches on most all topics concerning our co-existence.

A lot of the book is rather theoretical, comparing ideas about our animal relations across the world. But there are enough real examples and stories to keep the readers interested.


The Social Conquest of Earth
The Social Conquest of Earth
by Edward O. Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The past and future of social organisms, 10 Sep 2012
At first, Wilson seems very hard-headed and technical with his intricate analysis of how social life evolved. He's perhaps the world's greatest expert on social insects, so his comparison of sociality among the bugs and the humans gives a great combination of fine detail with broad perspective. Because Wilson looks at clanishness and meat eating as utterly necessary steps in the evolution of human communities, I thought he was going to defend tribalism as a necessary reality of life. But as he reviews human history and modern social trends, he sees a critical path toward inclusivity, creativity, and mutual care as the requirements for success, which will replace tribal-style culture and religion as known in the past.


The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology v. 2 (Arkana)
The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology v. 2 (Arkana)
by Joseph Campbell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.13

5.0 out of 5 stars He's still a hero to me, 26 Jun 2012
Campbell has been my hero since I was an adolescent. Where the usual discussion of spirituality and religion is bogged forever in legalistic literalism (These myths are false! How can you call them myths!). Campbell showed the playful but marvelous power of myth and art to inspire or enrich people's lives. In contrasting Eastern and Western myths, he highlighted how the Eastern spiritual journeys are not about obeying authority; they're about self-discovery and self-realization. They are not a matter of competing codes of law, but alternative therapies to deal with suffering.

The book is of course a bit dated now. I feel the parts on ancient Middle Eastern myths are more related to the roots of Western religion. And he does not give Chinese or Tibetan myths the treatment they deserve. But I'll always remember something Campbell pointed out during WWII and he mentions here: As Japan was America's enemy, some religious Americans pointed out that the Japanese worshiped devils. Outside their temples there are statues of the ferocious, evil-looking demons those people bow down to! Campbell replied that these demons are representatives of our fears. These seemingly terrible wild things stand at the entryways to inner peace, seeming to warn us back. But for those who pass through the gates of fear, there is a sacred garden of the soul, referred to throughout the world by it's Persian name of "Pari-dise," or "Pari-desh," the garden of angels, from which Western myths say we are banished and can never find in this world, but only in another life after death.

--author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization


Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna; A Ten-Year Journey
Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna; A Ten-Year Journey
by China Galland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars appreciating what's good and beautiful, 19 Jun 2012
This is a moving, well described journey into some of the world's greatest living goddess traditions. Rather than looking into the past for goddesses to admire, Galland looks to divine women in modern Christianity and Buddhism. And though it may be surprising to some, these are powerful, inspiring, popular religions. Galland finds the age of the goddess alive and well. She takes these traditions as she finds them. Many devotees take their goddesses as supernatural beings, made of a spiritual substance, and able to respond to prayers. Others see the divine women as historical, literary, or psychological realities. Galland does not tell you what to think, she just appreciates what's good and beautiful.

--author A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization


The Fifth Sacred Thing
The Fifth Sacred Thing
by Starhawk
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Starhawk's monument, 14 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Fifth Sacred Thing (Paperback)
I think this book is maybe the greatest thing Starhawk ever did. It's a monument of imagination, where she fully fleshes out the alternative society of her dreams -- how it will function, think, and feel. She imagines just about the worst disasters we could throw at ourselves, in our present state of mind, and then plausibly shows how the society of witches could emerge from that, as a victory of basic human decency. Of all alternative worlds I've seen in books or screens, I like this one the best.

--author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization


A Short History of Australia
A Short History of Australia
by Manning Clark
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars a glorious old grouch, 27 May 2012
Clark gives a fairly exhausive account of the arguments which built and tore down Australia. His flowering prose elaborates the rather furious divisions of religious sects, political parties, classes and races: "The Asians and Pacific Islanders, it was argued, were doomed for the wall, while the Europeans must avoid the fate of Humpty Dumpty." If you thought North America's culture wars of race, religion, and capitalism have been nasty, Clark delivers a lofty verdict on such foolishness in Australia. The book ends about 1985, and does so on an unapologetically grouchy note. For example: "Mammon had won: Mammon had infected the ancient continent of Australia. The dreams of humanity had ended in an age of ruins." It takes a grand old man to spew it out like that.


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