Animal Literature's book review - August 2012
This book should come with a warning: you will be exposed to some
horrific information and heart-breaking tales of the War on Wildlife. Viewer
discretion is advised. Government discretion is also advised: politicians
not only allow but encourage wildlife hunting for various "management"
reasons in many jurisdictions, and humanity should have come up with a
better way by now. As for those who kill for fun ...
Robertson is one angry author-photographer, and we soon see why. In North America it began about 12,000 years ago (with the migration of the first murderous humans): the escalating eradication of wild species. This book jolts us with contrasts, i.e. between the wondrous photos of animals and the hideous word-pictures of the cruelties visited on coyotes, wolves, bears, bison and victims of leg-hold traps. Some of us cannot even read it, it is too graphic. Yet the photos inspire, and re-ignite activist desire to lobby -- yet again -- for wildlife and an end to hunting whether for business, pleasure, or wildlife "management."
Best of all the book educates us on the ways of our wild compatriots -- their parenting, their emotions and lifestyles, and their clever survival adaptations (they are just like us human apes ...!) Ultimately perhaps only that felt sense of the evolutionary, neurological and behavioural connectedness of life forms on this planet will take us beyond argumentation to a place where casual animal killing becomes universally recognized as inherently repugnant.
In an e-book era this one should be acquired in printed book form. So much is lost online, where in cyberspace we are overwhelmed by constant extreme stimuli both positive and negative. Were we not so jaded by all that this might have been a landmark book along the lines of Rachel Carson's, Thoroeau's, Farley Mowat's and others who woke up a somnolent public. Can books still do that? (or in a post-literate age does everything have to be film and youtube?)