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The Green Life: Book Review Wednesday: Humans Among Animals

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December 01, 2010

Book Review Wednesday: Humans Among Animals

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week, we're recommending books about humankind's relationship with animals in the wild.

Jane Goodall: 50 Years at Gombe (by the Jane Goodall Institute, $20, Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, Oct. 2010) This beautifully illustrated, updated version of the 1999 classic, Jane Goodall: 40 Years at Gombe, is a compelling tribute to one of the world's most recognized scientists, who, 50 years ago, began her groundbreaking research of chimpanzee behavior. Celebrated is Goodall's mission to understand humans by observing and living among Gombe's wild chimps, and highlighted are the accomplishments of an organization dedicated to discovery, compassion, and action.

The Story of Brutus: My Life with Brutus the Bear and the Grizzlies of North America (by Casey Anderson, $14, Pegasus, Sept. 2010) A naturalist and animal-rescue and -rehabilitation expert explores his intimate bond with Brutus, a grizzly bear he met on a wildlife preserve eight years ago. The friendship between a man and the animal that inspired the creation of a Montana preserve to protect bears born into captivity is likely to warm hearts and motivate readers to safeguard animals and their habitats.

Don't Look Behind You: A Safari Guide's Encounters with Ravenous Lions, Stampeding Elephants, and Lovesick Rhinos (by Peter Allison, $12, Lyons Press, Sept. 2009) In this funny and brutally honest collection of tales from safari camps in Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia, a renowned safari guide shares the challenges and mishaps of a not-so-glamorous way of making a living. Spending the night in a thorn tree with hyenas, floating on a raft down a crocodile-infested river, and getting surprise tent visits from leopards? Just another day on the job.

Fish Tales: Stories & Recipes from Sustainable Fisheries Around the World (by Bart van Olphen & Tom Kime, $20, Kyle Books, June 2010) Each chapter of this colorful book, full of stunning photography of fisherman working around the world, is dedicated to a different fishery. Readers will enjoy detailed accounts of days spent among fish in the wild, and can cook what is caught in each area by following the recipes provided.

The Moral Lives of Animals (by Dale Peterson, $18, Bloomsburg Press, Mar. 2011) This thought-provoking book aims to show what animals can teach humans about the meaning of life. Peterson, citing examples of human observations of animals using language and demonstrating generosity, illustrates how we've learned that creatures in the wild have a moral sense much like our own.

--Molly Oleson

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