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Cattle : an informal social history
Carlson, Laurie M.
Adult Nonfiction SF195 .C37 2001

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Carlson (A Fever in Salem; Boss of the Plains: The Hat that Won the West) offers a well-researched exploration of the symbiotic relationship between humans and cattle. Beginning with prehistoric cave drawings, she traces the history of cattle through domestication, agriculture and industrialization, which, she argues, has led to current concerns about food safety. In Europe, domesticated cattle herds led to the development of clans with social hierarchies and complex rule systems. She plumbs the link between woman and cattle: because women cared for the herd, Carlson argues that such societies were "largely female-dominated, or at least gender neutral." She examines the halcyon days of cattle ranching in the American West, exploring early conflicts between ranchers, the federal government and moneyed interests. Carlson pays particular attention to the effect American industrialization and science had on cattle and considers the ramifications of such developments as canning and refrigerated rail cars to carry meat across the country to consumers. She examines the benefits cows have brought, most notably perhaps the vaccine for smallpox, as well as concerns about mad cow disease and E. coli infections. Carlson reveals such historical footnotes as the role butter played in the Protestant reformation and makes sometimes unexpected connections, such as her ruminations on the link between selective breeding and the eugenics program in Nazi Germany. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Cattle were first domesticated by humans thousands of years ago. They are not native to the Americas, however, and did not reach the New World until their introduction by Spanish explorers. The impact of cattle on the history and culture of the world, including the United States, has been considerable. Carlson, whose previous works include a study of the New England witch trials and a book about women missionaries in the American West, covers many aspects of the relationship between cattle and people, from ancient times to the present. She has done an excellent job of extracting information and ideas from books, research journals, and popular magazines and has organized the material here into a lively and coherent whole. Carlson goes well beyond history of the bovines themselves to discuss the U.S. beef and dairy industries and their products, our changing dietary habits, consumer health and food safety, environmental and animal rights issues, and the special historical relationship between women and cattle. An excellent complement to this volume, especially for public libraries, is Sara Rath's entertaining The Complete Cow (Voyageur, 1998); while less detailed and narrower in scope than Carlson's book, it includes many color illustrations plus a lengthy chapter on breeds. Carlson's fine account is recommended for both public and academic libraries. William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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