"Uncovers some of the most interesting stories of how animals ... have impacted human civilization in economic, political, and industrial history. This is an original approach that links the biological sciences to the social sciences and students and general readers will find many interesting stories within these pages."
--American Reference Books Annual 2012
" An] inspired invitation to browsing, with short but informative essays on each of the subjects, rich in illustrations, excerpts and sidebars."
--Globe and Mail
Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the animals that have had the greatest impact on human civilization.
The 50 animals include the horse, dog, rat, whale, reindeer, beaver, flea, leech, dodo, falcon, oyster and shark. These creatures great and small have played central roles in the evolution of humankind, but they have remained at the periphery of our understanding of history. Whether it is an advancement in scientific knowledge, a trade war, disease and death, battles won and lost, or encounters with explorers in unknown lands, these animals have changed the course of history.
More than 150 elegant drawings, photographs and paintings, as well as excerpts from literature, highlight the concise text. The animals are judged by their influence in four categories:
- Edible -- animals that have shaped agriculture, such as the cow
- Medical -- animals that are "disease vectors," spreading bacteria and viruses, from malaria to plague
- Commercial -- animals used for trade or in manufacturing
- Practical -- animals used for transportation or clothing.
The animals described in Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History are familiar, but their roles in human history are easily overlooked. This attractive reference gives us a fresh perspective on our membership in the animal kingdom.