Andy Warner’s Oddball Histories: Pests and Pets | Review
Andy Warner’s Oddball Histories: Pests and Pets
by Andy Warner
Little, Brown, $24.99 (hardcover), $12.99 (paperback)
The author of the entertaining popular history Brief Histories of Everyday Objects returns with a similar, animal-focused book.
He’s divided this collection of interesting facts and explanations into three categories:
- “Creatures We Find Cute” goes beyond dogs, cats, and hamsters to include rabbits, guinea pigs, goldfish, and horses.
- “Creatures We Find Useful” are cows, pigs, donkeys, sheep, chickens, and bees!
- Creatures That Find Us Useful”, aka pests: rats, mice, pigeons, sparrows, raccoons, and cockroaches.
Readers find when and how certain animals were domesticated and some of the beliefs held about them. Some of the animals are eaten, some die in war, some are pampered, some are fads.
The colorful sections, with their cartoony illustrations, make history entertaining by adding in fun and unusual facts, presented with humor. The disturbing parts of the story aren’t avoided, either, with mention, for example, of cockfighting in the chicken chapter and the plague with the rats. It’s a fascinating book to dip in and out of, or if reading through, to note the many similarities throughout the centuries.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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