Fully illustrated in color, a fascinating exploration of the one hundred animals that have had the most profound influence on humanity throughout the ages.
We are not alone. We are not alone on the planet. We are not alone in the countryside. We are not alone in cities. We are not alone in our homes. We are humans and we love the idea of our uniqueness. But the fact is that we humans are as much members of the animal kingdom as the cats and dogs we surround ourselves with, the cows and the fish we eat, and the bees who pollinate so many of our food-plants.
In The History of the World in 100 Animals, award-winning author Simon Barnes selects the one hundred animals who have had the greatest impact on humanity and on whom humanity has had the greatest effect. He shows how we have domesticated animals for food and for transport, and how animals powered agriculture, making civilisation possible. A species of flea came close to destroying human civilisation in Europe, while the slaughter of a species of bovines was used to create one civilisation and destroy another. He explains how pigeons made possible the biggest single breakthrough in the history of human thought. In short, he charts the close relationship between humans and animals, finding examples from around the planet that bring the story of life on earth vividly to life, with great insight and understanding.
The heresy of human uniqueness has led us across the millennia along the path of destruction. This book, beautifully illustrated throughout, helps us to understand our place in the world better, so that we might do a better job of looking after it. That might save the polar bears, the modern emblem of impending loss and destruction. It might even save ourselves.
Simon Barnes was the chief sportswriter for the Times of London. He is the author of several books, including the bestselling How to be a Bad Birdwatcher as well as The Meaning of Birds, which is available from Pegasus Books. He lives in England.
"The book weaves zoology, biology, evolution, and culture, and it is delightful. A History of the World in 100 Animals is well-indexed and beautifully illustrated, and it’s a lot of fun to read. I will keep it on my library shelf and, as I do, rue the fact that my children are grown and gone and we cannot read a chapter of this every night together. Oh, the family conversations it could have sparked!"
"Simon Barnes’s paean to animals is also certainly a call for their conservation, but he does it with a wry humour, a conversational tone, and the belief that understanding other species will help us help them…and ourselves."
— Deccan Herald
“So, so good! ... More gems than a pirate's chest ... science, art, history, culture - it's epic and mammoth, a repository of all our truths through their lives.”
— Chris Packham, naturalist, television presenter, and author
Praise for The Meaning of Birds:
"Passionate, inviting, even lyrical. Barnes provides a companionable view of why we love birds, their lives, and futures."
— New York Times Book Review
"Barnes infuses this playful, conversational exploration of the relationship of birds to humanity with a sense of well-informed wonder. He demonstrates patient attention to the world around him, combining thoughtful scholarship with a skill for conveying particulars in accessible language. A generous volume."
— Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Glowing praise for birds from the prolific nature writer and novelist, who is filled with great affection and admiration for our feathered friends. The core message of this delightful book will appeal to birders everywhere."
— Kirkus Reviews
"A celebration, an exploration, and an exhibition. A cornucopia of facts, ruminations and appreciations—beautifully illustrated with multiple line drawings—The Meaning of Birds educates, entertains, and sends hearts soaring as Barnes shares his knowledge of and devotion to his subject, his eloquence and his wisdom."
— Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Barnes' fascinating with the avian world is at the heart of this book, a passion shared through engaging, often lively and always conversational text."
— BBC Wildlife
"[Barnes’s] premise is that people need birds, and if we pay attention to them, they can help us understand the world we share. Illustrated with stunning black-and-white illustrations."