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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 10 June 2006
Being animal lovers, both my wife and myself have been fascinated by their behaviour patterns, many of which were easy to understand but many more which were inexplicable. After reading this seminal work it was as if a great fog had been lifted. Thank you Temple Grandin. We have been recommending this book to all our friends and discovered that the author has also written extensively on Autism. A friends family has successfully dealt with an autistic child with the help of Temples books!
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This is a truly fascinating book written by an amazing woman, helped by her friend Catherine Johnson (mostly with grammar and language - the ideas and experiences all come from Grandin). Temple Grandin is autistic, but she is also a highly respected scientist, engineer and animal adviser, who audits around half the meat production plants in the USA. She has risen to prominence in the field precisely because she has made them more efficient, and in making them more productive she has improved the regime of animal husbandry throughout the country. Temple Grandin understands animals, as she explains in the book, because she sees the world through their eyes. Most autistic people do not think in words, but in pictures and they evolve their understanding of the world less by generalising from one category to another, than by seeing the details that `normal' people simply don't notice.

How Grandin's developed her faculties is a tremendously engaging and often moving story. She makes some astounding claims - giving evidence, for instance, that music developed in animals long before humans evolved - as she says: "We are the latecomers to the musical scene." She backs this up, as with all her claims, very convincingly too.

This book is overwhelmingly positive about what we can learn from animals and it deserves to be read by anyone who owns a pet, or cares for animals professionally. It will change the way you think about animals, and about autism.
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on 8 June 2007
Written by an autistic woman - Temple Grandin - and subtitled 'The Woman Who Thinks Like A Cow', this book is an exploration and explanation of how animals view the world and the ways in which the animal view is similar to the autistic view. What's so fascinating is how these animal and autistic views are different from those of what Temple calls 'normal people'.

You can approach the book from any number of angles and interest points. For animal lovers it's hugely informative in helping you to understand animal fears and motivators, behaviours and methods of communication. For those who'd like to know more about autism, it gives examples and stories of what it's like to live life as an autistic person. If you're interested in how we as humans operate in, and impact on, the world of other beings around us, this is a real eye-opener too.

Fascinating, informative, educational, enlightening, downright interesting. This book had me hooked from start to finish.
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on 26 December 2007
I initially borrowed this book from someone who had only read the fist 50 pages or so and another reviewer has completely misunderstood the book by describing it as merely a manual for abattoir owners. This is specifically addressed towards the end of the book, which is about a great deal more. Arguably, however, in this regard the writer has not put her best foot forward when it comes to the organisation of content. Make sure you read deeper into the book.

Notwithstanding this, the book has a light touch and is very easy to follow and digest. There are times when the flow of ideas seems a trifle simplistic or even repetitive but the virtues of this approach are apparent as the reader progresses. Temple gives it to you straight and does not beat about the bush. The reader grows in respect as the text progresses and appreciates the workmanlike compassion the author has for animals and autistic people in general.

I spent 3 months teaching an autistic man for the greater part of each day and found this to be of the greatest assistance in understanding both his savant qualities and limitations. I recommended the book to him and hope he reads it. It is clear to me that the talents of autistic people are being wasted and held in little regard. There should be a special employment agency (there is in the US) to help develop their usefulness to society and the sense of self-worth that flows from that.

Those familiar with the excellent TV program `The Dog Whisperer' will already be acquainted with the general tone of Temple's attitude towards dog handling although there are differences these are from the same stable. Temple extends our understanding to horses, cows, and pigs. As a cat lover I am sorry she didn't say much about cats specifically but her general points covered all sentient animals, I think.
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on 19 May 2007
a must read for animal lovers or any pet owner, or anyone really. this book is fantastic gives you an insight to autism and into the animal mind. i couldnt put this book down and gives you an insite into the minds of animals big and small. is bothe light hearted with story examples and has in depth descriptions. fantastic a must read wor anyone who is interested in animals or autism
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on 11 March 2010
Fascinating insight from the perspective of an extraordinary autistic woman, into the minds and emotions of animals. Dr. Grandin shows empathy for animals that is almost unheard of. Her understanding of cattle led to her single-handedly transforming the meat packing business in the US and Canada.

At the heart of the book is her firm assertion that her condition means she thinks like an animal, not as 'normal' people do as she puts it, this enables her to communicate to and empathise with animals on their level.

Her erudition is vast with citations from hundreds of research papers and experiments that have been carried out in the last century. She rejects Behaviourism for approaches that allow us to study the animal from the inside out.

Full of amazing stories and documented case studies, this book is a must for anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of autism or indeed their understanding of the animal mind.
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on 24 September 2010
This is written by an obviously intelligent, highly educated woman who shows great clarity and logic. I couldn't put this book down. So many little snippets of knowledge and information - just my sort of reading. And this book is not just for those interested in animals - it's far wider reaching than that. I bought this book after reading Thinking in Pictures as part of my personal research into language and communication "difficulties" (people, not animals). I found some interesting and thought-provoking therories and answers in this book (actualy more so for me in this book than in Thinking in Pictures).
At last I've found a writer that has really helped me get closer to understanding my child who, though not on the autistic spectrum (or not yet diagnosed), thinks differently. In that, I'm eternally grateful to you Temple.
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on 26 November 2008
Very interesting reading - I loved this book. I read it because of a personal family interest in Aspergers - as well as in my cat! :) - and highly enjoyed it. Well worth reading, and I will most likely be reading it again.

Brava, Temple Grandin!
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on 10 October 2010
This is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary woman. Temple Grandin is autistic and has found she has a special understanding of animals. She travels the USA lecturing and helping individuals, abattoirs and (mainly industrial) farmers deal with problematical animal behaviour. I found her tone oddly cold, but that could be just the way she is. Her love for animals is obvious and her way of interacting with them unique. A must-read for animal lovers.
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on 2 September 2010
I was motivated by the BBC "Horizon" programme devoted to her and more recently "The Interview" with her on the World Service, to buy a book by Temple Grandin. "Animals in Translation" had eighteen reviews, seventeen of which were very positive, on Amazon.co.uk, so I ordered it and started to read full of admiration for all she had achieved.

The first chapter offers moving glimpses into her very difficult childhood and adolescence and the start of her involvement with horses. It also divides humans into two clear-cut groups, autistic and normal, and has Temple Grandin making the astounding claim that "she is starting to be able to accurately predict animal talents nobody can see" based on what she knows about autistic talent. "This is a little like astronomers predicting the existence of a planet nobody can see based on their understanding of gravity." Words like these raise very high expectations.

So what is so very different in the ways animals and autistic people think? They see details to which the rest of us are oblivious, claims Grandin, and they think in pictures. Her work with cattle does indeed demonstrate that these animals react to reflections on smooth metal and puddles, slow fan blade movement, differences in light intensity and other stimuli which people working in abattoirs do not perceive until it is drawn to their attention. When Temple Grandin's book draws on her own experiences it is at its most convincing. I also found the common sense audits she devised very impressive. She has worked with horses, pigs and chickens as well as cattle. The problem is that she assumes what she has discovered about a few animals can be applied to all, and it is not even clear what she means by "animal." Perhaps she means "vertebrates" because mammals, birds and occasionally reptiles and fish are included.

Several of the 324 pages are devoted to dogs and are peppered with anecdotes, as is the rest of the book. She gives what sounds like very authoritative advice on the training of dogs, but more than one person reviewing this book elsewhere has pointed out that her theories depend on old, outdated and discredited research.

In a book where the style is slang-spiced, occasionally toddler-speak, conversational, it is often hard to disentangle what is evidence-based from the matrix of opinion, over generalisation and highly imaginative speculation in which it is embedded. Here is a sample of the writing:
"...most of what animals do in life they learn from other animals. Adults teach their young where to eat, what to eat, whom to socialise with, and whom to have sex with. The adults teach the young ones social rules and respect for their own kind."
Cats are the animals I know best. Our two cats were litter mates and arrived as kittens too small to have reached the stage where they would receive hunting lessons from their mother; yet these autodidacts progressed from learning to catch insects to catching mice once their deciduous canine teeth were replaced by permanent ones. Cats are also well known for regulating their social interactions and sex lives independently of their elders.

To write this review I read the entire book although I was tempted more than once to give up. I remain far from convinced that animals are autistic savants, that music is the language of many animals, or that Temple Grandin has no Unconscious. The book itself seems to contradict the idea that normal people are lumpers who generalise while animals and autistic people are splitters who see the differences between things more than the similarities. It also seems strange that, nowhere in this long book, is there any mention of the specialisation of right and left hemispheres of the brain. If we, normal people, seriously underestimate the intelligence of animals and of people diagnosed autistic, then this book underestimates our ability to train ourselves to see detail.
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