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Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History (Fifty Things That Changed the Course of History)

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  108 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews

The fascinating stories of the animals that changed civilizations.

Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the animals that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. Entries are organized by scientific name, except for Homo sapiens, which is featured last.

The 50 animals include the horse, dog, rat, whale, reind

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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 11th 2011 by Firefly Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kathleen
This book is essentially a collection of encyclopedia entries, which is what I wanted it to be. I liked the selection, especially that it included animals like the mosquito, honeybee, and cochineal, who have arguably had greater affect on human history than any of the large mammals.

Where this book lost me a little was the editorializing. The writing was a little weak and a few phrases were repeated more than once. Also, recommending a creationist web site is not something I have come to expect
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Eling
Dec 23, 2011 Eling rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
I would have gone 1.5 stars if I could have. I really, really, really wanted to like this book. There were some gems of information here & there, but I found the inconsistent writing tone & style of the author to be distracting, and the poor overall organization extremely frustrating.

Each animal is categorized as being either EDIBLE, MEDICINAL, COMMERCIAL, or PRACTICAL (often more than one), but the book itself is not organized around these categories. Or chronologically, geographically
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Kirsten Rodning
Jan 06, 2016 Kirsten Rodning rated it really liked it
This is a fun little book, but there is nothing especially profound in it. The author did a small bit of research on each of the fifty subjects in this book -- enough research to write approximately two pages on each animal and its impact on humanity. Though the book doesn't seem to be aimed at children, this is the sort of book that I would have loved when I was a kid. I would have carried the book around and I would have hand-written word-for-word each chapter into my "research" notebook (when ...more
Lucy
Jun 05, 2012 Lucy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I liked it. The entries are all 2, 4, or 6 pages long, except for humans who rate 8 pages. All the other entries are in alphabetical order by Latin name, except for humans, who are put in last, so he starts with the mosquito (Anopheles gambiae) and ends with the Oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopsis). It covers all the expected animals such as horse, cow, pig, sheep, camel, goat, cat & dog, but also includes Iguanadon (for the dinosaurs), the dodo (for human-created extinction), earthworm, ...more
Edward Sullivan
An informative and interesting collection of essays on fifty mammals, reptiles, fish, fowl, and insects that had profound impacts upon civilization. Good for browsing. Attractively designed with lots of color illustration.
Koroviev
Feb 01, 2015 Koroviev rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, m

Most entries contain a short biological description, followed by the animal's impact on human civilization. The impact is material, abstract, or both. There are quite a few mythical stories, which illustrated in some respect the importance of the animal in people's lives. Of course, as each entry is only 4-6 pages long, there cannot be any details, and there aren't, but there are interesting tidbits of information and also pictures (I loved the "Leeches" container)! The entries I liked the most:
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Sam
While this is an interesting read it should be noted that there is a heavy emphasis on how each of the animals have affected people, so the title should be 'Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of Human History' (and yes I do think there is a history outside of what humanity gets up to). Each of the animals chosen has been selected for their importance to man from their edible or medicinal uses to their role in mythology and science (Darwin's Finches have their own entry). Each entry is fairly ...more
Erica
Apr 05, 2012 Erica rated it liked it
Lots of fun and interesting blurbs! Sadly, I have found I don't like reading an entire book of blurbs. I liked skimming it and picking out an essay here and there, but I had this for six weeks and wasn't able to finish, so I just returned it to the library.
Even so, it's a fun book and in my imagination, I would love to use it as a companion text in a 5th-grade world history class (or whatever they have, now, that substitutes for world history). I felt the book has the potential to engage student
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Am Y
Apr 15, 2015 Am Y rated it liked it
Like other reviewers, the first thing that struck me about this book was the poor editing and writing style. The writing and research is subpar for quite a few chapters.

Under the chapter on "mosquitoes" for instance, no mention at all is made of dengue fever, which has killed - and is still killing - people in Southeast Asia mainly. Instead, the author keeps going on about the West Nile virus. And no mention at all is made of the Culex and Aedes mosquitoes, which are major vectors.

Despite lowe
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Kirsti
May 29, 2012 Kirsti rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book, as it was a break from my usual fictional reading. I enjoyed finding out facts about fifty different animals, historical references and the impact the animals have had on the world. There was old information I had forgotten, and new facts that will stay with me now (I especially enjoyed reading about bees) This would be a good book if you were still at school and had a project or assignment as even though the entries are short, they are fact filled and seem to be based ...more
Ryan
Jun 22, 2012 Ryan rated it it was ok
Shelves: nature
Great illustrations and book design. 50 seems to be a rather arbitrary number though, it could easily have been 20, or 100, and my own inclination would be for the former, a more thorough review of each species rather than the passing glimpse offered in this book. And why Humans??? DUH. History is a manmade concept and only exists in relation to humans. Its like saying you are one of the people who influenced your own destiny.
Josie
Oct 15, 2012 Josie rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, science, history
Great information, and soooo interesting! Beware, if you are around me any time in the near future I am sure to share an amazing animal fact with you.

On the downside, I felt some disagreement with the author in certain areas, but do not have enough animal knowledge to truly argue my thoughts. Also, the illustrations weren't captioned...it would've been interesting to understand them better.
T. Strange
Jul 14, 2013 T. Strange rated it liked it
Shelves: review
The frequent typos are extremely distracting, and the title, while dramatic, has little to do with the content--it is mostly a book about animals, which is good and interesting, but it hardly gives evidence of how these animals 'changed the course of history'.
Kathie
Jun 16, 2013 Kathie rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting. There are many that did not make the list, and some of these I wouldn't have put on the list as well. I guess everyone has an opinions of their own on this subject.....
Allison Riendeau
Jun 10, 2013 Allison Riendeau rated it it was ok
Eh. Most information I already knew. Some of the writing was a bit clumsy too.
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Jan 23, 2015
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