Animal friends and foes
When I was a newspaper editor, I found it fascinating that stories about animals would often elicit greater emotional responses from readers than articles about humans. People are passionate about animals, whether considered pets, pests or protected by PETA. Hal Herzog adeptly explores this phenomenon in his new book, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat, which asks: How can humans have such a range of feelings about animals, to the point where they want to domesticate some, destroy others and deep fry the rest?
Herzog is the perfect man for the job. A professor of psychology at Western Carolina University and a leading expert on human-animal relations, he has spent years studying the complex and sometimes conflicted relationships between man and animals, including research on animal rights activists, cattle ranchers, circus trainers, laboratory technicians and cockfighters. He writes about his own complicated relationship with animals: “I eat meat—but not as much as I used to, and not veal. I oppose testing the toxicity of oven cleaner and eye shadow on animals, but I would sacrifice a lot of mice to find a cure for cancer. And while I find some of the logic of animal liberation philosophers convincing, I also believe . . . humans [are] on a different moral plane than other animals.” Having identified his own psychological and moral dilemmas, Herzog spends the rest of his book examining how the rest of humankind relates to animals.
While Herzog is a university researcher, the book is thankfully not written like a scholarly article. He uses simple language and an engaging, conversational writing style, and the book is filled with wonderful anecdotes, from people who have had fatal encounters with crocodiles and sharks to those whose lives have been saved by their pet dogs. Herzog also offers answers to such pressing questions as “Do children who abuse animals become violent adults?” and “Why is dog meat a delicacy to some and disgusting to others?”
Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat is both educational and enjoyable, a page-turner that I dare say puts Herzog in the same class as Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis. Read this book. You’ll learn some, you’ll laugh some, you’ll love some.