Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

Arnold Arluke and Robert Bogdan

From fairy tales to photography, nowhere is the complexity of human-
animal relationships more apparent than in the creative arts. Art illuminates the nature and significance of animals in modern, Western thought, capturing the complicated union that has long existed between the animal kingdom and us. In Beauty and the Beast, authors Arluke and Bogdan explore this relationship through the unique lens of photo postcards. This visual medium offers an enormous and relatively untapped archive to document their subject compellingly.
The importance of photo postcards goes beyond their abundance. Recognized as the people s photography, photo postcards were typically taken by photographers who were part of the community they were photographing. Their intimacy with the people and places they captured resulted in a vernacular record of the life and times of the period unavailable in other kinds of photography. Arluke and Bogdan use these postcards to tell the story of human-animal relations in the United States from approximately 1905 to 1935. During these years, Americans experienced profound changes that altered their connection with animals and influenced perceptions and treatment of them today. Wide-ranging in scope, Beauty and the Beast looks at the variety of roles animals played in society, from pets and laborers to symbols and prey. The authors discuss the contradictions, dualisms, and paradoxes of our relationship to animals, illustrating how animals were distanced and embraced, commoditized and anthropomorphized. With over 350 illustrations, this book presents a vivid chronicle of the deep cultural ambivalence that characterized human-animal relations in the early twentieth century and that continues today.

My Take:

Describe Beauty and the Beast in one word you ask?  Thorough.  Well, maybe you didn't ask, but too bad, I told you anyway.  I was very surprised by this book, I was expecting some cool pictures with a tad bit of social commentary and bam!  Done.  Well, no, it was much more...well...thorough, than that.  The authors chose a specific period of time (1905-1935) in which to study photographs of human/animal relations in specific categories such as pets, mascots, workers, food, vermin, and symbols.  The writing, though very involved, was very interesting.  It is not what one would consider light reading, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  While I did enjoy the written analysis of the photos, the photos themselves were my favorite part.  They displayed a wonderful cross section of animal interaction, some beautiful, some funny, some sad.  This book is very straightforward, which makes it very easy to asses a person's interest.  If you enjoy old photographs, are interested in the subject matter, and aren't afraid of some heavy reading, you'll enjoy this book.  I know I did.  2, Borders with a Coupon

I want to know what you think: Does this sound like a book you'd enjoy?  Are you interested in historic photographs and art?  If so, what is your favorite time period and why?  Hit the comments!

The images in this book are rated PG.  There is a picture of breeding horses and gutted animals hanging up in  slaughterhouses

***FTC Disclosure:  This e-book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

If you are interested in purchasing Beauty and the Beast, please consider supporting The Book Buff by purchasing from the following Amazon link, thank you!


Ellen Lynn said...

This sounds like an amazing book. I was just perusing my like list through google connect and I stopped to read this because of the title. I assumed it was another retelling of the fairytale but was immediately intrigued by the non-fiction take.

This is a clear example why print publishing will continue. I'd like to own this book. Reading it would be only one of its valuable points, but its visual power and frankly, inspirational power are just an important.

Excellent and interesting choice to highlight.

Kate the Book Buff said...

I completely agree about traditional books. I LOVE my Kindle, its very handy, but there's no way I'd be able to enjoy this GORGEOUS book on it.

I'm glad you enjoyed my review, I hope you really enjoy the book!

productjunkiemama said...

Thank you for your welcome on Bloggy Moms! I am a Jane Austen fan was warmed to see that you have a page devoted to her works! Following you on GFC! Stop by my blog some time.

Cozy in Texas said...

Interesting book - thanks for the review.

Komal Mansoor said...

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I would love to have ur comments on my blog posts as I am new to blogging thing. Thanks a lot!

kamagra said...

It's a gorgeous book, whether one is reading or flipping through enjoying the images.


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