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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Ethics Into Action: Henry Spira and the Animal Rights Movement
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on 8 September 1998
Peter Singer's latest book, "Ethics Into Action: Henry Spira and the Animal Rights Movement," is much more than a biography of the New York activist. Singer shows how an individual without money or apparatus can make a difference in today's complex world. He also shows in rich detail how Spira was able to influence multi-billion dollar corporations, major institutions and even the U.S. government.
The book chronicles the beginnings of the modern animal rights movement which was launched in 1975 by Singer's bestselling "Animal Liberation." The story includes Spira's familiar Revlon campaign that set the stage for cruelty-free labeling on many of today's cosmetics products. But it also recounts Spira's earlier involvement in the Civil Rights struggle, the fight for democracy in the National Maritime Union, and his confrontations with the FBI as a reporter in the 1950's.
Observing Spira's problem-solving skills in action makes this book seem like a training manual for activists and a valuable resource for anyone with a results-oriented agenda. It is also a fascinating story told with engaging clarity.
We all want to feel that our lives are meaningful, that we are doing more than just "consuming products and generating garbage" (Spira's words). This book shows us how one man was able to translate good ideas and intentions into meaningful action and change. The world is a better place because Henry Spira was here.
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on 6 July 1999
I don't want to take anything away from Peter Singer's celebration of Henry Spira's life or work in pursuit of animal rights. However, I would point out that this book is a development of Singer's essay on Spira's work in the earlier "In Defence of Animals" collection. From the perspective of pragmatic demonstration of beliefs and empirically verifiable harm, it is a good book. If Singer publishes a second edition, could he refer to any corroborative evidence that Spira used in more detail? I am not an animal rights activist, but I thought this provided a good description of practical activism
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on 12 April 1999
This is how you do it. You pick winnable issues and you test the waters. If you've hit on a good one, you'll be able to win over supporters. The more accurately and fully you describe the situation, the better. And the more you can contribute to the question of better alternatives, the better. If some of the reforms are incremental, so be it. You're still improving the welfare of sentient creatures. (At other times, you're just too far ahead of other people, or people feel like it would be too much of a long shot. That's okay. Pick another issue, and maybe come back to this one later. Try to get that winning combination of an issue that's both meaningful and achieveable.)
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on 23 September 1998
Ethics Into Action is not only a book about Henry Spira's life and the animal rights movement, it is a detailed guide for fighting injustice. Spira, founder of Animal Rights International, is best known for his campaign to end animal testing in the cosmetics industry. His 1980 full page New York Times ad against Revlon's blinding of rabbits was the catalyst that created public outrage against animal testing and led to protests and over 20,000 letters and calls into the company's headquarters. Spira's efforts were responsible for the "cruelty-free" labeling found on many cosmetics today.
In the mid-80s, Spira tackled farm animal issues and was responsible for stopping industry-wide ritual slaughter practices. Fully conscious cattle, weighing up to 2,000 pounds, were shackled, hoisted into the air, and hung upside down by one leg until they were slaughtered. Spira also abolished the USDA practice of branding Mexican cattle on the face. His powerful, full-page newspaper advertisements created such a public outcry that face branding was discontinued. By the 90's, his focus turned to major food producers and fast food chains such as McDonalds, Perdue and KFC. Not only did he fight for more humane treatment of animals who were oftentimes raised in such crowded conditions they could not turn around or stretch their legs, he fought for better conditions for underpaid factory workers.
What many people might not realize is that Henry Spira lived his beliefs. Not only did he believe animals should be treated ethically, he believed his opponents should be treated with an ethical fairness missing in most activism today. He did not believe in pointing fingers or blaming corporations for the wrongs they inflicted on animals; he worked to find realistic solutions that benefited both sides. He convinced companies to fund their own research into finding alternatives to animal testing, and he pressured the government into changing its guidelines on product testing. This realistic and intelligent approach is the reason Spira was so successful.
The author, Pete Singer, is an eminent philosopher who started the animal rights movement in the 70's with his best-selling book Animal Liberation. Spira was a pupil of Singer's in a 1974 ethics course, and the two eventually went on to found the International Coalition for Farm Animals.
Unfortunately, Henry Spira recently passed away after a long bout with cancer. But he will live on in every person and animal who benefited from his work, and he will be remembered as a man who lived simply and knew the true meaning of success. Ethics Into Action details how Spira carried out each of his campaigns and gives each of us the blueprint to follow in his footsteps. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to right an injustice or wants to see exactly how one person can make a difference.
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on 19 September 1998
Peter Singer's "Ethics Into Action" is a must read for every activist -- no matter what your area of activism. Dr. Singer relates how one person, Henry Spira, made a difference for animals. We have all at one time or another pondered "how can I, one person, make a difference in this world?" Read how Henry Spira made a positive impact, again and again, and you will begin to believe that one person can perhaps make a change for the better, whatever one's cause may be. Henry Spira is truly an inspiration. It is ironic that Peter Singer who many years ago inspired and motivated Henry Spira to forge ahead in fighting for a good cause, now many years later writes a powerful, illuminating book on how Henry Spira did just that and instigated major changes for animals along the way, again and again . The path has never been easy, but this one man has moved some big stones going down the path. Henry has influenced society's view regarding animals at large and has had a major impact on how certain corporations treat and regard animals. Whether one agrees with his philosophy or not, one cannot but admire Henry for going down this difficult route and making changes for the better along the way. Whatever your cause, Henry's story will change how you think and what you think. You will believe that you too, one person, can make a difference, whatever your cause. Read the book...make a difference. Push the peanut forward.
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on 7 September 1998
This book is a must read for activists everywhere, whether their goal is animal liberation or other forms of social change. It inspires by describing numerous successful campaigns undertaken on behalf of animals and, more importantly, shows what steps were taken in order for those campaigns to be successful. Henry Spira serves as living proof that the individual can make a positive difference in the world.
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on 4 September 1998
Peter Singer is the father of the animal rights movement. His relationship with Henry Spira is at the heart of this significant book.These two men have done more for animals than any other humans, and this is the story of how they did it. Spira is an inspirational human being who has devoted his life to liberating animals from bogus and cruel laboratory experiemnts. His style, his wit, and his insights are sprinkled throughout this readable biography. Ethics into Action is destined to be a classic. It's a must read for anyone who cares about animals.
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on 16 May 1999
This is a well written (as all of peter singers books are) book about the life of Henry. He accomplishes hiis goals because he never lets down. He shows us that the best way to make a change is to work with the people you are trying to change, not against them. This makes perfect sense but most of us do not practice it. Well done and worth a read especiially if you want to be an activist.
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on 30 August 1999
Another wonderful book! You changed our thinking and our lives 18 years ago with 'Animal Liberation.' We owe our health and happy lives to you. If the animals could talk, they would say, 'Thank you, Peter.' We hope everyone will take what you have written in this book and put it to good use.
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