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Etre the Cow

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  97 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
A poignant tale about pushing limits and challenging destiny Humiliated by his hoofed legs, the flies on his haunches, and the grass in his mouth, a bull named tre tells his tender story about the brutal insignificance of cow life at Gorwell Farm. In a world where the line between disgrace and dignity is drawn by a pasture fence, tre finds himself alone in his awareness an ...more
ebook, 144 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Health Communications (first published 2010)
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Jun 13, 2011 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Berchtold Brecht wrote: „Die dümmsten Kälber wählen ihre Metzger selber“ Roughly translated "the dumbest cow, chooses its own butcher"

The meaning being: we follow blindly, without thinking and choose our life without really choosing it consciously.

Etre changes that... He becomes aware...

Or as some others would have said:

- He awakens (Jim Morrison)
- Cogito, ergo sum (Descartes)
- J'ai pas choisi de vivre ici, entre la soumission, la peur ou l'abandon, J'm'en sortirai, je te le jure, à coup de l
Sep 05, 2011 RYCJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dynamic-reads
First must point out, this is the prettiest (in tangible quality) book I have held in my hand this year! Outstanding printing! So, kudos to the interior designer of etre the cow, and to the print house.

It was easy to appreciate the premise of être the cow remembering stories passed over to me by ancestors about the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and covered in historical references. In terms of civility, knowledge bears no more comfort than ignorance.

Despite être, in his own suffering, believing f
May 24, 2011 Semeiotickled rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Semeiotickled by: The author
"Etre the cow
Is on être
Et cet'ra."

-"Être" referencing the condition of the bovine protagonist's self-awareness, and his search for a meaning to his existence ("être" in French connoting being, existence).
-Etre's plight is juxtaposed with - and his struggles accentuated by - his interactions with the other cows, who lack his awareness and are therefore content with their bovine lot, be it alfalfa or abattoir. The Latin "et cetera" can be translated as "and the rest", "and the others", Etre's
Carol Royce Owen
This was one of those books where you sit-down-and-don't-know-what-to expect-and suddenly-you-are- drawn- in-and-don't-want-to-put- it-down-even-to-use-the-bathroom! Can you tell I loved this book? The storyteller is the cow, Etre, who believes there is something more to life and is constantly searching for happiness for himself, and then later his family, My Cow and Bull Calf. There are some very vivid scenes that would make this a book inappropriate to read to younger children, but for teens i ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: Natalie
Shelves: fiction, 2014-reads
A well-written fictional account of a cow's life. The story is told through the eyes of Etre, a bull cow. It begins with his life as a lone calf, a young bull in love, the birth of his own calf and then experiencing a pivotal event in his life as he discovers everything isn't what it seems...

A surprisingly thoughtful but yet simple book. Well worth the read.

Thank-you for recommending, Natalie!
May 18, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From My Blog (received 4.5 stars)...

A deeply philosophical and moving narrative, Être the Cow by Sean Kenniff is a brilliantly written novel about wanting more from life. The protagonist is highly intelligent and desperately wants to communicate with others. He views himself as rather ugly and has a fear of streams and dogs, as he proceeds to explain life as a bovine living in Gorwell, a rather large industrial farm owned by the Creely's. As he explains life, he starts to question life, free wil
Sean Kenniff
Jan 13, 2011 Sean Kenniff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wrote it, so of course I am giving it a 5 star rating. I hope you enjoy it. It was not easy to write. Thank you.
Aug 19, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-books
Full of metaphors, this story reminds me of getting stuck in a bad corporate job...
Apr 01, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
ETRE THE COW is a small book but don't let it fool you, the message is huge. When I first received this book from TLC Book Tours I didn't really know what it was going to be about. Is it simply a story about a cow named Etre? I don't think so. Here's what I do know: Etre is a bull living in the pastures of Gorwell Farm, and the first thing I noticed was his innocence and inquisitive nature.

Etre has lived at this farm for awhile and has watched as other cows and bulls come and go through the seas
Interesting quick read that I know I would not have read if it was left up to me to pick up. This was the first time as an adult I’ve read a story from the point of view of an animal. More gruesome and truesome I’m sure than a Charlotte’s Web tale. While I’m not apt to quit eating my beef and become a vegetarian I do have to say that the slaughterhouse and mating scene from a bull’s perspective had my stomach turning a bit. Kenniff does do a fascinating job in making you feel as if you’re the bu ...more
Dec 26, 2013 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: Matt
Shelves: fiction
I'm glad this book is acting as a catalyst for lots of readers, it just isn't one for me. The writing is fine, but the premise just seems trite to me (cows as a metaphor for the general public while the ranchers indicate government - not terribly deep, honestly.) We've read it before and this doesn't do it exceptionally well.

I actually picked this up because I was interested to see how the cattle aspect of it was handled since I am a partial homesteader and follow issues associated with the rea
I wanted to love this book. I expected to be deeply moved and affected by etre. As a former vegan/vegetarian and current supporter of many animal rights groups, I truly thought this book might be what I needed to send me back to my vegan ways. Unfortunately, I just didn't feel what everyone else seems to have felt while reading etre's story. I didn't see the deepness that supposedly existed. I can see the parallels that were supposed to exist between etre's situation and a country stuck in a rec ...more
Lorettajo Kapinos
Aug 03, 2011 Lorettajo Kapinos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My complete writer's review can be read at: But here's an excerpt:

I loved Être the Cow. It was everything I'd heard it was. I was moved by Être's outlook and could relate to his thinking-who hasn't felt trapped and desperate to escape? Who hasn't look around at others and wondered what they're thinking. Even with people I can converse with, I sometimes feel more confused than centered. I, too, feel the desire to inspire only to be frustrated when others don'
Vaishali Joglekar
Apr 27, 2014 Vaishali Joglekar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Possibly the most important, compassionate book one will ever read. Jane Goodall's thumbs-up is well-earned. If there was one gift I'd give to each human being I'd ever meet, it is this book.
etre is a bull blessed (or cursed) with human-level cognition. When the reason cows are raised by humans becomes clear to him, he attempts to warn his companions and escape the corral.

I was disappointed that the author (who was also once a contestant on "Survivor"?!) felt it necessary to note that he is not a vegetarian in his jacket bio. It's hard to imagine that someone who so accurately describes the workings of a slaughterhouse and obviously feels such empathy with cows could continue choos
The world through a bull's eyes. Most of it was ok. The bull can't seem to get anyone, bovine nor human, to understand his attempts at language, not sure how he learned to write! ;) But as a vegetarian the last parts were very hard to read. Still I'm sure others will enjoy so I will pass it on to friends. It come highly recommended by Dr. Jane Goodall.

I am hoping to add this to another book for a BookCrossing duo. Attention: Cherylllr
Sep 14, 2010 Clarice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I have to admit I chose to read this book based on the title, "Etre" in French means "to be" or "to exist". But to quote from the book, "The savagery overwhelms me". The book was smooth sailing until of course it came to the fate of all cows, the slaughterhouse. But we're supposed to face the truth and feel uncomfortable. I like the social, political and economic symbolism, and it really is a quick read. Nice reading group questions at the end.
May 03, 2011 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Etre is Ferdinand the Bull, only in 3D, no rosy pictures, the full story on what it means to be a cow in a pasture where he is the only enlightened one. And poor Etre is not as enlightened as he believes he is, which he finds out after a mistaken journey into the slaughterhouse. A fable fraught with meaning, sweet one moment, horrific the next. A great group read.
Dec 03, 2011 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what brilliant story! Don’t be fooled by the name of this book, it is not just a book about cows. It is filled with interesting metaphors and symbolism that relate to the struggles that we humans face, a roller coaster of emotions. Etre the Cow is more than a good book, it is an experience, and a definite must read. It changed my life forever!
2.5...decently written, but one of those oh-so-philosophical books that's been done a million times before. That said, the life of a cow thru the eyes of a bull endowed w/ higher consciousness is interesting, and Kenniff did a pretty good job at it.

Apparently Jane Goodall liked it. Which makes me think I should have liked it more. Oh well.
Suzie Carr
Jul 13, 2011 Suzie Carr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great story. Stirred up many emotions. I connected to it because it seemed like a similar struggle that many human beings experience. Many tend to 'be fenced in' to their lives, and those few who are brave to stretch beyond their comfort, beyond what's expected, can create a field of possibilities.
R.S. Lentin
Sep 22, 2011 R.S. Lentin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this gem through the author’s Twitter account, which followed to his website, Intrigued to learn about a cow’s perspective of living within fences, I bought the book and read it in one sitting. An enjoyable, thought-provoking read. I look at cows from both sides now.
May 14, 2011 Lorriezm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
I loved the book, though at times it was difficult to read. Kenniff is a beautiful writer and this book will stick in my mind forever. Beware, this book may cause you to stop eating meat. Thankfully, I had already given it up.
May 17, 2011 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book. A timely fable about life in the modern industialized world. Everyone who thinks at all seriously about our society and their place in it should read this book.
Megan Van
Mar 09, 2011 Megan Van rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book about the struggle we all face-to identify ourselves among the crowd-to be an individual.
Etre is touching in its simplicity and elegant in its sentiments.
Who would've thought a book narrated by a cow would have such a deep impact on me? Great job, Sean Kenniff, you are truly a genius.
Kathy Fredrickson
Jul 19, 2011 Kathy Fredrickson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens, YA librarians
Etre the cow is one enlightened bull! A creative and heart-wrenching look at life as a cow.
Aug 16, 2012 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

So far Être seems like a fairly depressed bull. Waiting for it to pick up.
Janice Scurio
...what the fuck did I just read?
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Sean Kenniff is neither a cow nor a vegetarian. The author of "Stop Effing Yourself", is a physician, television journalist, radio host, and creator of the popular health news website

In 2000 Kenniff was one of the original castaways on the CBS reality show Survivor. Born and raised in New York and now living in Miami, Florida, he was working for a large U.S. corporation during
More about Sean Kenniff...

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