Lars-Henrik Olsen: Dyr & Spor / Which Animal?

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Have you ever wanted to know which animal left that pile of poop on your back garden? After reading this book, you’ll know! And many, many other things too.

Lars-Henrik Olsen: Which Animal

Author: Lars-Henrik Olsen
Publisher: WSOY 2012, Finland (the Finnish edition)
Category: non-fiction
Original language: Danish
Rating: 4/5

Lars-Henrik Olsen has put together a book on common European wildlife which is the best I’ve ever seen. It shows you the foot prints and traces of animals, how their poop or vomit balls look like, how they eat and where they sleep. The viewpoint is that of the ordinary mr Smith, who’s out in the backyard or even a little further down in the forest and sees that something’s clearly been around, but what?

Olsen shows in the most interesting way, how you can succeed in finding wildlife in your surroundings by knowing where to look and for what signs. The book is incredibly practical, easy to read, divided into sections of different animals and groups of animals and behavior types and what you can make out of those.

There must be hundreds of pictures in this book, both photos and drawings, which illustrate perfectly the topics discussed in the text. Yet, it’s not too big or cumbersome to take with you when you’re actually out there exploring.

Warmly recommended!

Susan

From the same author:

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Hannele Klemettilä: Federigo’s Hawk

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The Dark Ages – the Middle Ages. When the world was ruled by barbaric ignorance. This is quite a popular conception, but is it justified? Hannele Klemettilä is a Finnish historian, who wants to challenge the image of the Middle Ages as an era of cruelty. In Federigo’s Hawk she presents us with evidence of the compassion and appreciation the people in the Middle Ages showed towards animals – their invaluable companions and helpers.

Hannele Klemettilä Federigon haukka

Author: Hannele Klemettilä
Publisher: Atena 2013, Finland
Category: Non-fiction
Original language: Finnish
Rating: 4/5

HelMet Reading Challenge 2017: number 10. A book with a beautiful cover.

Klemettilä gives examples of relationships people had with several different animal species; dogs and cats, horses, hawks and elephants among others. Many household animals had to work hard, but so did their owners. On the other hand, there was no intensive animal farming – pigs wondered in the woods and chicken ran on the backyards.

What Klemettilä is stressing over and over, is that people were individuals also in the Middle Ages, just as they are now. There were those that adored animals and those that couldn’t care less. Even if there was someone voicing the inferiority of animals, it doesn’t mean everybody would have been of the same opinion.

It is good to bring these issues up. On the other hand, I cannot help wondering the academic research in this kind of issues. It seems that many conclusions are drawn based on very few sources and then generalized without a justification. There are of course relatively few records stemming from the Middle Ages that can be studied. But shouldn’t that be a good reason to withdraw from making generalizations?

All in all, Klemettilä has written a very entertaining book on the history of the relationships between humans and non-humans and as such it is well worth reading.

Susan

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