Our Kindred Creatures

How Americans Came to Feel the Way They Do About Animals

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Pub Date 23 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 24 May 2024

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A compassionate, sweeping history of the transformation in American attitudes toward animals by the best-selling authors of Rabid

Over just a few decades at the end of the nineteenth century, the United States underwent a moral revolution on behalf of animals. Before the Civil War, animals' suffering had rarely been discussed; horses pulling carriages and carts were routinely beaten in public view, and dogs were pitted against each other for entertainment and gambling. But in 1866, a group of activists began a dramatic campaign to change the nation’s laws and norms, and by the century’s end, most Americans had adopted a very different way of thinking and feeling about the animals in their midst.

In Our Kindred Creatures, Bill Wasik, editorial director of The New York Times Magazine, and veterinarian Monica Murphy offer a fascinating history of this crusade and the battles it sparked in American life. On the side of reform were such leaders as George Angell, the inspirational head of Massachusetts’s animal-welfare society and the American publisher of the novel Black Beauty; Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Caroline White of Philadelphia, who fought against medical experiments that used live animals; and many more, including some of the nation’s earliest veterinarians and conservationists. Caught in the movement’s crosshairs were transformational figures in their own right: animal impresarios such as P. T. Barnum, industrial meat barons such as Philip D. Armour, and the nation’s rising medical establishment, all of whom put forward their own, very different sets of modern norms about how animals should be treated.

In recounting this remarkable period of moral transition—which, by the turn of the twentieth century, would give birth to the attitudes we hold toward animals today—Wasik and Murphy challenge us to consider the obligations we still have to all our kindred creatures.
A compassionate, sweeping history of the transformation in American attitudes toward animals by the best-selling authors of Rabid

Over just a few decades at the end of the nineteenth century, the...

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ISBN 9780525659068
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Featured Reviews

Our Kindred Creatures is a non fiction about the history of the treatment of animals.
This was a very engaging book and kept me wanting to come back to the book.

Everyone knows I’m a crazy cat lady, so it’s nice to read about other people who are as compassionate towards animals as I am. I recommend this book for all animal lovers.

Thank you to Knopf and NetGalley for the advanced reader editions, in exchange for my honest opinions.

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Our Kindred Creatures is an in-depth study of animals and the humans that interact with them. It is clear that civilization has come a long way in the treatment of animals. There are many players in the game that made that change possible, which is detailed in the book. Also, the changes in science and technology which have enabled us to change our relationship with domestic and wild animals.

The writing flows well and is very engaging. There were some grotesque descriptions of vivisection, beatings, etc. that are difficult to read. But otherwise, it is incredibly informative and a fascinating study of the topic.

Thank you NetGalley and Knopf for the ARC.

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I love animals that thought this would be a unique read in the nonfiction genre. I thought it was a fascinating history of animals in America, it was written well and I could see the research in this book. Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy do a great job in writing this.

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I adored Our Kindred Creatures. It was eye opening on how we look at animals in this country and I appreciated the overview of the history of animal treatment and how it has changed, shaped, and morphed into a much more humane, compassionate view of how we should treat our creature friends.

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