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Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals
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Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  516 ratings  ·  69 reviews
The animal rights movement has reached a tipping point. No longer a fringe extremist cause, it has become a social concern that leading members of society endorse and young people embrace. From Michael Vick's dog fighting scandal to the incredible success of the bestselling Skinny Bitch veggie diet book, animal rights issues have hit the headlines—and are being championed ...more
Paperback, 386 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published February 26th 2008)
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Lisa Vegan
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: open minded omnivores and lacto-ovo vegetarians, and vegans too
Recommended to Lisa by: Sharron
I really love this book; it’s among the best of its type of animal rights philosophy and information books.

Twenty years ago I was reading animal rights books as fast as I could find them, but for quite a few years now I’ve avoided most of these books because I find them highly disturbing. I figure that I am already vegan and I’ve already educated myself so why should I inflict more pain on myself.

However, I like Karen Dawn (I subscribe to her Dawnwatch email list) and was intrigued by this book.
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book for those who may be interested in animal protection issues and would like to know more. Karen Dawn brings her unique perspective and even some humore to difficult topics, making the material much more readable.Really great book.
Christina Stind
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book about animal cruelty and how to end it. Karen Dawn discusses practically all aspects of animal cruelty - eating animals, animal tests, hunting, zoos and circuses, the fur industry and pets. The book is composed of short paragraphs and with pictures of celebrities endorsing animal rights and comics about animal welfare etc so it's a very easy read, probably targeted to young adults.

The book gives a broad introduction to the various aspects of the discussion of the areas in
Nov 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: animal rights n00bs
Overall, this is a more-than-decent reference book and place to start for people interested in various animal welfare/rights issues. The format isn't the most fluid and the writing isn't the most inspiring although it does have its moments of humor. Issues are broken down into chapters and then smaller sections, much like a textbook, only less dry. I don't see this effectively influencing most omnivores to make major lifestyle changes, but it might sway those already on the path towards being ve ...more
Chris Frederick
Oct 11, 2009 rated it liked it
If, like me, you wish you knew more about animal rights issues, this is a pretty good place to start.
Some criticisms I would make are that Dawn's writing can get repetitive; at times you feel like you're getting beaten over the head, and I found that a few chapters dragged on and on. It's also a little disjointed, flipping from dry journalistic prose to one-liners that come out of nowhere. Also, despite her stated attempt to avoid excessive sentimentalism about animals ("I think animal advocate
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Depressing tour of the various awful ways in which we have treated animals, from horse racing industry through circuses to slaughterhouses, fur coats, lab testing of medicines and cosmetics, and on and on.

I withheld the fifth star because the book is essentially unorganized, and it reads more like a website than a book -- lots of sidebars with vegan-celebrity photos and quotations, for instance.

In terms of content, though, it is highly informative. I also found appealing the author's perspecti
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I believe that I can probably safely credit this book for a large portion of my current beliefs. I had been a vegetarian before picking this up off the shelves, but this book convinced me to take that final step to veganism - and it never fails to make me feel bad when I eat dairy or eggs. Admittedly it does present a fairly radical viewpoint, but Dawn does try to be at least a bit more neutral than other organisations. What would be a thoroughly depressing read is made bearable through the auth ...more
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This was an excellent book that gives the details about how animals are used (badly) by the entertainment, food, clothing and chemical/beauty sectors, as well as talks about what part you can play to help millions of animals not suffer needlessly in the name of the almightly dollar. The details aren't sugar-coated, but the author doesn't try to shock you like Peta does. She gives the facts for you to go away and think about and understand why the Animals Rights people feel the way they do. An ex ...more
Aug 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
This is a flashy book promoting PETA with lots of celebrity photos, sob stories about sad experiences with animals, and numerous animal cartoons. I looked at most of the cartoons, but just skimmed the book, finding it not worth my time. I viewed a link to a PETA video of horrific animal slaughter which was supposedly done in secret. I mistrust PETA and disagree with their tactics, though I agree with their assessment of factory farming. The answer is for people to support their local farmers or ...more
Dec 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very interesting news about the meat, fish, dairy industries along with animal entertainment industry that is just down right heartbreaking... Pick this book up if you've ever bitten into a tumor in your chix nugs and want to know why?, owned a pet, or are brave enough to face the fact that meat is not what our ancestors is a filthy industry that is polluting our environment far more than farming crops. Give it a is a very enjoyable book regardless if you are going to BK for d ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animals
This is a very thorough review of all the ways animals are exploited in our society. It also discusses the different ways vegans have tackled this exploitation, from violent opposition to every use of animals to attempts to work within exploitative systems to reform them.
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Here is why I thought this book was great: To many people veganism is scary, extreme, and somewhat elitist. Karen Dawn presents a different perspective. A more realistic perspective. Instead of bashing us over the head with her intended purpose from the word go (which is absolutely to convince readers that a vegan lifestyle is not only the morally correct choice but also the healthiest diet option) she begins her book by tackling the broadest topic involved: animal rights. Animal whats? Rights.. ...more
Nicole Dorville
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Considering that it is written by neither a scientist nor a philosopher, and in the early 2000s, this is an excellent book.
I would have given it 5* if I read it then.

It is a subtle expose into the greed of the US and a cautionary tale of modern, western and especially American society: overestimated, overeating, overdosing, overindulgence, which is killing a lot of wonderful creatures

This book has a lot of extensive coverage of stories, philosophy and facts, peppered with cute comics and celeb o
Gabriel Loyd
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I believed this to be incredibly excellent to the beginning of animals rights which is connected to planetary rights. Miss Dawn is subtly persuasive and holds true and fast to her beliefs while making sure her beliefs do not force themselves. She honestly believes in what she writes, not because she was told to, but because she chooses to through experience and fact-checking.
The horrors that humans perpetrate knowingly or unknowingly are worth of re-examination. I've been a vegan for a year no
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: all-of-creation
This is a well-researched compilation of animal-welfare issues. I do disagree with the author on some of her personal opinions that she writes about, but as an informational book "Thanking the Monkey" is great. ...more
Harris Morrison
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
dynamic and charming greatest hits of animal rights.
Catherine Kelaher
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vegan, animals, activism
This book covers the essential facts about many issues in animal rights, but manages to add wit and a fresh perspective to the mix. The book has vibrant colour pictures and uses cartoons and celebrity quotes to help illustrate the issues.
As well as learning a lot of new information, I found this book very entertaining. It was also my husband’s toilet read (men love to read on the toilet). That’s the thing about this book; you can read it a bit like you would a magazine. It will make you laugh an
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really, sincerely loved this book. It provides all sorts of basic information, laid out in a clear way, on anything that anyone might possibly want to know about the concept of animal rights. The author includes sections on animals used for clothing (including wool, silk and down), laboratory testing (very often unnecessary or inexplicably cruel), the animals we consume (and animal products, such as milk and eggs), animals in entertainment (movies, circuses, and theme parks), and a wealth of o ...more
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
I have been vegetarian for the past 8 years (although I did eat fish occasionally until the past year) and have been cooking and baking vegan for a year. As someone who cares about becoming more educated in my own beliefs, I was very excited to read this book as it had high praise. However, as someone who loves art and literature I was disappointed by both the visual aesthetics and Karen Dawn's writing. 

It is one of the most poorly designed books I've seen and is simply unattractive. While there
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with a soul
If you are looking for a book that covers all of the injustices that animals endure in our society, then look no further. This book paints a cursory picture of all of them and goes into great detail on some. The author brings up some very interesting perspectives for all of us, animal rights activists included, to reflect upon. Far from a judgmental, condescending, militant book, this one actually invites people to simply learn about the issues and make whatever choices they can to improve the t ...more
Alden Mackie
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. This was a "you bought x, here's what other people who bought x bought" recommendation on When I first opened it up I was a bit thrown off by the format, fearing I had picked up a book written in the same format as those obscure pages in the middle of highschool yearbooks put in by the companies to cover the pop-culture of the year. It just looked a bit juvenile. However, after reading just the first few pages I knew I was getting into a serious, educated di ...more
Cherisa B
Wow. A thoughtful, comprehensive and brutal tour of the ways humans mistreat, torment, torture, dominate, and kill animals. A real eye opener everyone should read. Small changes and choices each of us makes everyday can make a big difference in our moral turpitude and guilt in animal mistreatment. The author isn’t propagandizing but her story and rhetoric will sway you into believing what we are doing should be better. I know I’ll be making changes.

Dawn intersperses the text with with sidebars o
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a good primer on humane issues that keeps the reader engaged with humorous asides, in contrast to the detached and gloomy writing that often characterizes these sorts of books.

It's a good book to recommend to omnivores and those uninformed about humane issues as well, because Dawn is willing to meet readers "halfway there" if they still haven't made up their minds about the tougher animal issue controversies. One concern I had was with the double-entendre title, which might make it a t
dianne b.
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really well done. Karen Dawn takes a potentially divisive topic and presents it in a way that can speak to everyone. Of course there are parts, as we learn about how animals are treated in the USA, that should cause nausea in any loving being - but there is also humor and grace. Much to learn for anyone passionate about anything - towards the end she suggests how to accomplish change. Among the ideas:

“...we must be willing to to take a stand and speak it in a way that others will hear. The probl
Maria McMahon
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a thought provoking book - well titled, once you get into it and realise the terrible things that humans do to our fellow creatures. It is at times heartbreaking but the author doesn't try to guilt trip you into her way of thinking - she just lays out facts (look at the bibliography to see where she gets her facts from!) and as commited vegetarian (and now vegan!) of 18 years, I know that what she is saying is the sad and horrible truth. This book should be compulsory reading for everyon ...more
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
I like the comics and light-hearted tone she uses. I already was familiar with most of these issues but I like that she encourages involvement and really getting your voice out there, especially through the media, and telling people that THIS is how things will eventually change. I don't agree with her standpoints on everything though, namely the way she somewhat skews wildlife conservation and the way that we must deal with wildlife while still maintaining animal welfare goals. She somewhat sim ...more
Kitty Galore
If I weren't already a vegetarian who knows all too well the cruelty and abuse permeating the factory farm culture, it would have been a real eye-opener. This is not to say I didn't learn a few things, but several sections I needed to skip over because it is all so very mentally painful for me. I suppose what the book did provide was a greater determination to stay the course. Whenever I see meat on someone else's plate, all I can think about is the pain and suffering that animal needlessly and ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Lots of detailed information for anyone open to actually learning about all different kinds of issues and industries affecting animal welfare. I didn't give it 5 stars because I have different views and opinions about the sheltering and care of companion animals than the author does. If you agree with PETA on their views, then you would agree with the author. I am vegan but I don't agree on everything with them. ...more
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it
A heartbreaking but highly informative account of animal misuse and cruelty in pretty much every context you could think of. The format makes it easy to read, if somewhat disorganized, with a mix of short blurbs, photos, and celebrity quotes on animal rights. I've been a vegetarian for 10 years and still learned a lot from this book. It's upsetting but vital knowledge that could change how you feel about a lot of common practices, so I encourage everyone to check this out. ...more
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that changed my life. It answers many questions that you might have on animal rights. Karen Dawn makes it interesting with comics and witty commentary. It could have been this very serious book that is way too dramatic but she share this information in a way that can keep anyone interested. It is a very easy and quick read that gives a reader an introduction into animal rights and will leave him or her wanting to research into the subject more.
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