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When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This book discusses an exemplary collection of examples of emotional reactions across a wide range of species. It provides compelling arguments supporting the notion that evolutionary continuity requires that animals experience emotions.

It is at the top of the line of books in this class, which strive to illustrate the sentience of other life forms and declare that it must be acknowledged.

In many ways "When Elephants Weep," successfully makes the point that homo sapiens wrongs other life forms, in failing to treat them with the consideration due to those capable of suffering.

In addition, it is a fascinating and revealing read, a must buy for people who love their pets and consider it self evident that other species may also experience their own version of subjective states, and be emotionally responsive to humans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 11 September 2012
I found this book fascinating, although at least in my own case there was a certain amount of 'preaching to the choir'. As Masson argues, any pet owner would argue that of course animals have feelings, of course their dog is excited about a walk, of course their cat is pleased to see them, or gets jealous or angry or sulks. Scientists, however, would argue that we are guilty of anthropomorphism, a cardinal sin of animal behaviourists, the sin of projecting onto animals the emotions that we ourselves would feel in their place.

This book is not a scientific exploration of emotions in animals; Masson doesn't go into hormones or biochemical reactions in the brain or any other biological scientific explanation for what emotions are and whether they happen. It is more of a philosophical argument based on behaviour. He provides numerous anecdotes to support his arguments, which range from the ability of animals to love, to hope, to grieve, to be cruel, to feel shame, to appreciate beauty and express creative endeavours.

As I said, I was convinced before I read this. I have pets, and to me the idea that they 'feel' is a no-brainer. Perhaps their emotions are not akin to mine, perhaps what I mean by fear or hope or love is not the same thing they experience - but I would never deny that they are 'feeling' creatures, that their moods can be affected by things other than evolutionary and instinctive reactions. And after all, who is to say that what I interpret as fear or love and hope is the same as my next-door neighbour or my family or the man in the street? Just because we all experience emotions differently doesn't mean we don't feel just as deeply.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
How wonderful to be carefully and convincingly led into the world of animal experiences, and to have their special sensory systems, types of intelligence, and evidence of loving and compassionate behaviour explained so well. Reading it is a very powerful experience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2013
Beautiful story, very touching and at the same time interesting. A must read for any animal lover. I am studying animal behavior and psychology and found this book to be both intriguing and inspiring. Very nice condition.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2006
This is an excellent book, well written and entertaining yes, but also with much evidence to support the writer's theories.

Whilst it might be argued that some of the evidence is anecdotal, that is probably best explained by the fact the author is so knowledgable and experienced in the subject, that he is able to accurately interpret selected animal behaviour without requiring hundreds of pointless scientific experiments.

The stories in this book will bring tears (mostly of joy) to the eyes of animal lovers everywhere. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2012
You will enjoy this book over and over, the lasting impressions of how to deal with our own lives through theirs is a wonderful eye opener.
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41 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2002
"When Elephants Weep" is an enjoyable read despite being misrepresented by its cover details. If you're looking for an analysis of whether animals are capable of emotions, you'd better look elsewhere, but if you're after a series of amusing and touching animal anecdotes, you're in the right place.
The author makes no real attempt to objectively analyse animals' emotional states or capabilities and doesn't need to: he states in the foreword that that animals can experience emotion is "obvious", and that he is a vegetarian on the basis that he could never eat anything with eyes, since the eyes are too reproachful.
So I should clarify: had the book been represented as a collection of animal stories in the mould of Gerald Durrell, this would be a five star read: a cracking holiday book by a real animal lover that'll keep you laughing, crying and turning the pages. As a scientific analysis, even as pop science (and with apologies to the author), this is laughable: lacking basic evidence for its arguments, and scrupulously avoiding objectivity by taking a biased point of view and stating its conclusions in the foreword.
Fun, but disappointingly shallow.
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on 13 November 2014
I have just started reading this book and it is every bit as good as I was expecting it to be.
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on 10 July 2015
Great book! Recommend to anyone interested in emotions and/or animal behaviour.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2012
I read a little of this before I wrapped it up for Christmas. My son and his wife are currently in Thailand helping out at an elephant sanctary and I know they will appreciate the spirit of this book. It arrived promptly and well wrapped.
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