Grimm, David. Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs. PublicAffairs. Apr. 2014. 352p. index. ISBN 9781610391337. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781610391344. PETS
Many American households have companion dogs and/or cats that are considered family members, even surrogate children. Cat owner Grimm (deputy news editor, Science) explores, through changes in social attitudes and laws, how our furry friends attained such an esteemed status. Citing various historical and legal writings from the Middle Ages through the early 20th century, Grimm traces the evolution of today’s pets, from once being considered feral beasts and valueless subjects to family members and quasicitizens. The author’s research includes fascinating travels across the country interviewing detectives investigating animal cruelty cases, soldiers training military working dogs, and animal law attorneys, and he also visits a wolf sanctuary. The chapter on the search for pet survivors of Hurricane Katrina is heart-wrenching, yet from this tragedy new rules were created to rescue cats and dogs in natural disasters, exemplifying how attitudes toward them have changed. VERDICT This engrossing, enjoyable, and well-researched title contributes positively to the literature on companion animals and belongs in all libraries.
Heinrich, Bernd. The Homing Instinct: Meaning & Mystery in Animal Migration. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2014. 384p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780547198484. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780547523637. NAT HIST
Readers of this, or any of Heinrich’s previous books (Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death), will recognize his habits of mind—observing, questioning, measuring, wondering, drawing, problem solving—the supply of applicable gerunds nearly runs out. Here the author explores homing and home building, working the theme across the animal spectrum (with a side trip into the vegetal world of chestnut trees). Heinrich (emeritus, biology, Univ. of Vermont) divides his latest work into three broad sections: the first, perhaps most familiar to readers, covers homing, where the wonders of some migratory animals’ navigational prowess is examined; the second investigates the physical structures in which some beasts dwell; and, in a richly allusive third part, where Heinrich’s own return home frames the narrative, he considers how all of this relates to human biology and culture. Much of the author’s inquiry occurs locally, in the Maine woods, but the study of some extraordinary homemakers—frogs, sociable weaver birds, sandhill cranes—takes him to far-flung Suriname, the Kalahari, and Alaska. VERDICT Natural history fans will love this book. Its appeal is multilayered, with many fascinating instances of Heinrich’s fabled fieldwork and plenty of hard science. Add to that those moments where the author stands agape at what he observes—say, a spider’s web—and the writing nearly attains the lyric poignancy of poetry. [See Prepub Alert, 11/1/13.]
Reid, Keith. Improving Your Soil: A Practical Guide to Soil Management for the Serious Home Gardener. Firefly. 2014. 272p. illus. index. ISBN 9781770852266. pap. $29.95. GARDENING
A successful garden doesn’t start with the plants; it starts with the soil. Unfortunately, many gardeners struggle with the complexities of managing and improving dirt. For those mired in trying to understand what pH, tilth, field capacity, and cation exchange capacity have to do with their vegetables and flowers, soil scientist Reid’s new book will be helpful. Reid (manager, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) breaks a complicated subject into manageable pieces written in lay terms. In 13 chapters the author covers everything from soil type, texture, and structure to irrigation basics, making the work an exceptional introduction for new gardeners and a solid reference for the more advanced. Even the chapter on soil chemistry is written so as to make it understandable to nonscience readers. Further, Reid’s excitement and fascination with his topic shows in his prose. With color and line illustrations, a glossary, and appendixes on soil labs, extensive resources, and chemical symbols and formulas. VERDICT This book is an excellent resource that both first-time and experienced home gardeners will find accessible and useful.
Windrow, Martin. The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar: Living with a Tawny Owl. Farrar. Jun. 2014. 320p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780374228460. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374711535. NAT HIST
In 1977, British military historian Windrow (series editor, Osprey Publishing; The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam) acquired a tawny owl, a raptor roughly the size of a bread loaf. It didn’t work out; the bird, probably too old to adjust to his new life, escaped. Windrow was almost relieved, yet yearned to try again. The next year the author acquired a domestically bred hatchling, young enough to bond. Thus began a 15-year relationship during which Windrow learned as much about himself as he did about the bird, whom he named Mumble. Mumble turned out to be more of a companion than expected. In many ways, Windrow observed, Mumble was like a cat with wings—but her diet was dead chicks eaten raw and she relieved herself on everything. It took the author 20 years after Mumble’s death to write this book; readers will be glad that he did. There’s a lot of quiet humor here but it’s the scientific knowledge about tawny owls and Windrow’s affectionate descriptions of Mumble’s (and his own) daily life that make the title a gem. The line drawings in ink by Christa Hook are delightful. VERDICT This treasure of a text will delight animal and pet lovers of all kinds, and is recommended to readers of memoirs as well.
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Caldwell, Gianaclis. The Small Scale Dairy: The Complete Guide to Milk Production for the Home and Market. Chelsea Green. Apr. 2014. 240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781603585002. $34.95. ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Day, H. Alan & Lynn Wiese Sneyd. The Horse Lover: A Cowboy’s Quest To Save the Wild Mustangs. Univ. of Nebraska. 2014. 264p. illus. ISBN 9780803253353. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780803255005. ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Health & Medicine
Divine, Mark. 8 Weeks to SEALFIT: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Unconventional Training for Physical and Mental Toughness. Griffin: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 240p. photos. ISBN 9781250040541. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466835894. HEALTH
Haycock, Dean A. Murderous Minds: Exploring the Criminal Psychopathic Brain; Neurological Imaging and the Manifestation of Evil. Pegasus. Apr. 2014. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9781605984988. $27.95. MED
Hoffman, Janie. Chia Vitality: 30 Days to Better Health, Greater Vibrancy, and a More Meaningful and Purposeful Life. Harmony: Crown. May 2014. 368p. illus. ISBN 9780804139786. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780804139793. HEALTH
Braitman, Laurel. Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves. S. & S. Jun. 2014. 400p. notes. index. ISBN 9781451627008. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781451627022. NAT HIST
Dry, Sarah. The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts. Oxford Univ. May 2014. 272p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780199951048. $29.95. SCI
Furman, Andrew. Bitten: My Unexpected Love Affair with Florida. Univ. of Florida. Apr. 2014. 192p. bibliog. ISBN 9780813049755. $24.95. NAT HIST
Mazur, Joseph. Enlightening Symbols: A Short History of Mathematical Notation and Its Hidden Powers. Princeton Univ. Apr. 2014. 296p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780691154633. $27.95. MATH