By Dale Peterson; photographs and Afterward by Karl Ammann; University of California Press
Berkeley, California 2003; ISBN: 0-520-23090-6; 333 pages, $24.95
Eating Apes by Dale Peterson is well written in a comfortable style. This excellent and easy to read prose contrasts with the disturbing facts it presents of the ongoing genocides motivated by western civilization's penchant for greed and power. When you consider that indigenous human peoples of Africa have shared the forests with our fellow apes for thousands of years without destroying each other, it is easy to determine who is responsible for this disaster. Consider the fact that our western civilization has yet to come across a people (ape or otherwise) who have lived in harmony with nature and who we have not destroyed. This book chronicles the latest such destruction with regard to chimpanzees, gorillas, and the human forest foragers, as well as the forest in which they live.
Peterson's book with Karl Ammann's "Afterward" creates a bold and brave j'accuse of the logging and conservation organizations that are spearheading this latest attack. The uplifting part of the book is Karl Ammann's story of uncompromising ethics and an amazing dedication to bringing the bushmeat crisis to the world's attention. The apes are indeed fortunate to have a person of Ammann's character befriend them. Ammann's photographs are haunting and make statements that an entire book could not begin to express.
In addition to Ammann's story, there is the story of a former hunter, Joseph Melloh, which serves to give the hunters a face and humanity that can be understood and even forgiven. What cannot be understood or forgiven is the "Feel Good Conservation" rubbish provided by the logging companies and some of the conservation organizations to exploit this crisis for their own gains.
Whereas Peterson's bravery and Ammann's amazing dedication will make you feel proud to be a human, the actions of the conservation organizations selling out to the logging companies will make you ashamed and angry. You must read this book. And then you must follow the advice of Peterson and Ammann as to what you can do to help stop it. Finally, you must act now, because there is very little time left for our kin in the forests.
By Kristin von Kreisler; Foreword by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam New York, NY 2003; ISBN: 1-58542-222-3; 192 pages, $19.95
At too many experimental laboratories that house dogs, you will see individual dogs who are huddled and trembling at the back of their cages, their heads are held low and their tails are tucked tightly beneath them. These poor souls, visibly traumatized by their situation, are terrified of every person who enters the room and every sound and activity that goes on around them. These animals, clearly unable to cope with the laboratory environment, shouldn't be there.
For Bea is the true story of one such dog, a beagle who escaped from a research facility and, aided by the compassion and patience of her new human companions, healed from the psychological damage inflicted upon her. Written by Kristin Von Kreisler about her beloved dog, the reader follows the painstaking transformation of Bea from mental wreck to grand dame of the house.
One of my favorite chapters is titled, "The Battle of Bea's Bulge." There are lots of dogs who love to eat to the point that you worry that, given the obsession and the opportunity, they would consume themselves to oblivion. The traumatized Bea was gaunt, but her rescue and healing yielded a figure that was dangerously overweight. To her chagrin, Bea was put on a diet. She rebelled by eating anything in sight, including papers from the trash can, the fuzz from tennis balls, the wicker off her own bed, and finally the padding from under a rug. Following the consumption of the padding and a trip to the veterinarian, a truce was reached in which Bea was given more food and she stopped eating non-food items.
The book, a quick read, is a heartwarming account sure to be enjoyed by anyone who has shared a special bond with a dog and will be particularly appreciated by those who at one time or another have had a beagle companion.