My Top 25 Animal Liberation Books

Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life by George Monbiot

How many of us sometimes feel that we are scratching at the walls of this life, seeking to find our way into a wider space beyond? That our mild, polite existence sometimes seems to crush the breath out of us? Feral is the lyrical and gripping story of George Monbiot’s efforts to re-engage with nature and discover a new way of living.

He shows how, by restoring and rewilding our damaged ecosystems on land and at sea, we can bring wonder back into our lives. Making use of some remarkable scientific discoveries, Feral lays out a new, positive environmentalism, in which nature is allowed to find its own way.

The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy and Why They Matter by Marc Bekoff

Based on award-winning scientist Marc Bekoff’s years studying social communication in a wide range of species, this important book shows that animals have rich emotional lives.

Bekoff skillfully blends extraordinary stories of animal joy, empathy, grief, embarrassment, anger, and love with the latest scientific research confirming the existence of emotions that common sense and experience have long implied. Filled with Bekoff’s light humor and touching stories, The Emotional Lives of Animals is a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them.

Beasts of Burden: Biopolitics, Labor, and Animal Life in British Romanticism by Ron Broglio

In Beasts of Burden, Ron Broglio examines how lives—human and animal—were counted in rural England and Scotland during the Romantic period. During this time, Britain experienced unprecedented data collection from censuses, ordinance surveys, and measurements of resources, all used to quantify the life and productivity of the nation.

It was the dawn of biopolitics—the age in which biological life and its abilities became regulated by the state. Borne primarily by workers and livestock, nowhere was this regulation felt more powerfully than in the fields, commons, and enclosures.

Using literature, art, and cultural texts of the period, Broglio explores the apparatus of biopolitics during the age of Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. He looks at how data collection turned everyday life into citizenship and nationalism and how labor class poets and artists recorded and resisted the burden of this new biopolitical life.

The author reveals how the frictions of material life work over and against designs by the state to form a unified biopolitical Britain. At its most radical, this book changes what constitutes the central concerns of the Romantic period and which texts are valuable for understanding the formation of a nation, its agriculture, and its rural landscapes.

Europe: A Natural History by Tim Flannery

In this unprecedented evolutionary history, Tim Flannery shows how for the past 100 million years Europe has absorbed wave after wave of immigrant species; taking them in, transforming them, and sometimes hybridising them.

Flannery reveals how, in addition to playing a vital role in the evolution of our own species, Europe was once the site of the formation of the first coral reefs, the home of some of the world’s largest elephants, and now has more wolves than North America.

This groundbreaking book charts the history of the land itself and the forces shaping life on it – including modern humans – to create a portrait of a continent that continues to exert a huge influence on the world today.

Decolonizing Nature by William M Adams & Martin Mulligan

British imperialism was almost unparalleled in its historical and geographical reach, leaving a legacy of entrenched social transformation in nations and cultures in every part of the globe.

Colonial annexation and government were based on an all-encompassing system that integrated and controlled political, economic, social and ethnic relations, and required a similar annexation and control of natural resources and nature itself. Colonial ideologies were expressed not only in the progressive exploitation of nature but also in the emerging discourses of conservation.

At the start of the 21st century, the conservation of nature is of undiminished importance in post-colonial societies, yet the legacy of colonial thinking endures. What should conservation look like today, and what (indeed, whose) ideas should it be based upon?

Decolonizing Nature explores the influence of the colonial legacy on contemporary conservation and on ideas about the relationships between people, polities and nature in countries and cultures that were once part of the British Empire. It locates the historical development of the theory and practice of conservation – at both the periphery and the centre – firmly within the context of this legacy, and considers its significance today. It highlights the present and future challenges to conservationists of contemporary global neo-colonialism.

The contributors to this volume include both academics and conservation practitioners. They provide wide-ranging and insightful perspectives on the need for, and practical ways to achieve new forms of informed ethical engagement between people and nature.

Hungry for Peace: How You Can Help End Poverty and War with Food Not Bombs by Keith Mchenry

The de facto how-to manual of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which provides free food to the homeless and hungry and has branches in countries on every continent except Antarctica, this book describes at length how to set up and operate a Food Not Bombs chapter. The guide considers every aspect of the operation, from food collection and distribution to fund-raising, consensus decision making, and what to do when the police arrive.

It contains detailed information on setting up a kitchen and cooking for large groups as well as a variety of delicious recipes. Accompanying numerous photographs is a lengthy section on the history of Food Not Bombs, with stories of the jailing and murder of activists, as well as premade handbills and flyers ready for photocopying.

Complete Urban Farmer: Growing Your Own Fruit and Vegetables in Town by David Wickers

A nice and basic overview for the new urban gardener. If you are starting from ground zero this is a good book to read to get the very basics of indoor and outdoor gardening. It helped me to get excited about starting my own little plot.

The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living by Helen Nearing and Scott Nearing

This one volume edition of Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life brings these classics on rural homesteading together. This couple abandoned the city for a rural life with minimal cash and the knowledge of self reliance and good health.

Creating a Flower Meadow by Yvette Verner

Inspired by the idea of doing something positive for their local environment, Yvette Verner and her husband Mike bought a small field close to their home in the south of England. With the bountiful assistance of nature they have created a flower meadow which attracts a rich variety of wildlife, including badgers, deer and a multitude of birds and butterflies.

In this book Yvette tells the story of their meadow: how they designed the layout, selected and planted wild flowers, trees and hedgesand spent many absorbing hours wildlife-watching. Meadows such as theirs support large populations of plants, insects, birds and other animals, and are extremely important in maintaining the ecological diversity of our countryside. Many meadow species that farmers and gardeners consider to be weeds are host to other forms of wildlife: the modest oxeye daisy alone supports over twenty species of insect!

Earth Repair: A Grassroots Guide to Healing Toxic and Damaged Landscapes by Leila Darwish

Millions of acres of land have been contaminated by pesticides, improperly handled chemicals, dirty energy projects, toxic waste, and other pollutants in the United States alone. This toxic legacy impacts the environment, our health, our watersheds, and land that could otherwise be used to grow healthy local food and medicines.

Conventional clean-up techniques employed by government and industry are tremendously expensive and resource-intensive and can cause further damage. More and more communities find themselves increasingly unable to rely on those companies and governments who created the problems to step in and provide solutions.

Anarchism and Animal Liberation; Essays on Complementary Elements of Total Liberation by Anthony J. Nocella II, Richard J. White & Erika Cudworth

Building upon anarchist critiques of racism, sexism, ableism and classism, this collection of new essays melds anarchism with animal advocacy in arguing that speciesism is an ideological and social norm rooted in hierarchy and inequality.

This book brings together international scholars and activists from the fields of anarchist and critical animal studies. The contributors challenge activists and academics to look more critically into the causes of speciesism and to take a broader view of peace, social justice and the nature of oppression

Animal advocates have long argued that speciesism will end if the humanity adopts a vegan ethic. This concept is developed into the argument that the vegan ethic promises the most change if it is also anti-capitalist and against all forms of domination.

It’s Just a Feeling: The Philosophy of Desirism by Joel Marks

Written in an engaging style for the general reader, It’s Just a Feeling addresses the fundamental question of ethics: “How shall I live?” The answer it offers is: “In accordance with my considered desires.” This is the philosophy of desirism. The book distinguishes desirism from morality on the one hand and from self-centeredness on the other. Numerous examples drawn from everyday life illustrate desirism in both theory and practice.

Feral Children and Clever Animals Reflections on Human Nature by Douglas K. Candland

Our common way of thinking about the difference between physical and behavioral science, is that the goal of the first is to eliminate variance, while the second accepts variance as the essential characteristic of the subject worthy of study. The physical sciences seek to eliminate variation because variation confounds accuracy of prediction.

The behavioral sciences should accept variation as the essential aspect of living beings, and thereby strive to measure variance as a technique of describing the nature of life itself. We often confuse the legitimacy of these different goals, thereby leading us to the conclusion, for example, that the physical sciences are more “scientific” than the behavioral because they strive for accuracy and prediction.

Some appear to think that a measure of the applicability of science is accuracy of prediction, but variance, too, is a legitimate interest of the scientific method. Science is a unique method, a method independent of what it studies. Measures of variance can be just as reliable as formulas that strive to eliminate or reduce variance. As always, the meaningful issue is what one wants to know, what one wants to accomplish through the application of the methods of science.

Let us put to rest the notion that there can be no science of living beings or that scientific procedures somehow diminish and degrade the awesomeness of life. The chief characteristic of life forms, as opposed to physical objects, is variation. It is variation that permits evolution, for without variation, there is nothing for natural selection to select. The study of variation may be done in two ways: by study of the unique or by study of the general.

In this book, we have examined examples of both, although study of the unique case dominates, to be sure; but what Thorndike, Haggerty, and Hamilton contributed is the importance of general variation. Both ways must be investigated because we cannot know what is unique without knowing what is general. Behavioral science, therefore, proceeds on two fronts: the study of the unusual and the study of the variation characteristic of groups.

Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights by Bob Torres

The Sexual Politics of Meat is Carol Adams inspiring and controversial exploration of the interplay between contemporary society’s ingrained cultural misogyny and its obsession with meat and masculinity. First published in 1990, the book has continued to change the lives of tens of thousands of readers into the second decade of the 21st century.

The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory by Carol J. Adams

The Sexual Politics of Meat is Carol Adams inspiring and controversial exploration of the interplay between contemporary society s ingrained cultural misogyny and its obsession with meat and masculinity. First published in 1990, the book has continued to change the lives of tens of thousands of readers into the second decade of the 21st century.

Aphro-Ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters by Aph Ko and Syl Ko

In this lively, accessible, and provocative collection, Aph and Syl Ko provide new theoretical frameworks on race, advocacy for nonhuman animals, and feminism. Using popular culture as a point of reference for their critiques, the Ko sisters engage in groundbreaking analysis of the compartmentalized nature of contemporary social movements, present new ways of understanding interconnected oppressions, and offer conceptual ways of moving forward expressive of Afrofuturism and black veganism.

Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society by A. Breeze Harper

Sistah Vegan is a series of narratives, critical essays, poems, and reflections from a diverse community of North American black-identified vegans. Collectively, these activists are de-colonizing their bodies and minds via whole-foods veganism. By kicking junk-food habits, the more than thirty contributors all show the way toward longer, stronger, and healthier lives.

Suffering from type-2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and overweight need not be the way women of color are doomed to be victimized and live out their mature lives. There are healthy alternatives.

Thought-provoking for the identification and dismantling of environmental racism, ecological devastation, and other social injustices, Sistah Vegan is an in-your-face handbook for our time. It calls upon all of us to make radical changes for the betterment of ourselves, our planet, and–by extension–everyone.

Sistah Vegan is not about preaching veganism or vegan fundamentalism. Rather, the book is about how a group of black-identified female vegans perceive nutrition, food, ecological sustainability, health and healing, animal rights, parenting, social justice, spirituality, hair care, race, gender-identification, womanism, and liberation that all go against the (refined and bleached) grain of our dysfunctional society.

Oxen At The Intersection: A Collision by Pattrice Jones

When Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont announced that two oxen called Bill and Lou would be killed and turned into hamburgers despite their years of service as unofficial college and town mascots, Pattrice Jones and her colleagues at nearby VINE Sanctuary offered an alternative scenario: to allow the elderly bovines to retire to the sanctuary.

What transpired after this simple offer was a catastrophe of miscommunication, misdirection and misinterpretations, as the college dug in its heels, activists piled in and social media erupted.

Part true-crime mystery, part on-the-ground reportage and part socio-cultural critique, this a brilliant unearthing of the assumptions, preconceptions and biases that led all concerned with the lives and deaths of these two animals to fail to achieve their ends.

How and why the threads of this story unravelled, as Jones reveals, raises profound questions – most particularly about how ideas rooted in history, race, gender, region and speciesism intersect and complicated strategy and activism and their desired outcomes. In the end, notes Jones, we must always ask, Where’s the body?

A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory by Corey Wrenn

Applying critical sociological theory, this book explores the shortcomings of popular tactics in animal liberation efforts. Building a case for a scientifically-grounded grassroots approach, it is argued that professionalized advocacy that works in the service of theistic, capitalist, patriarchal institutions will find difficulty achieving success.

Philosophy and Animal Life by Stanley Cavell & Cora Diamond

Philosophy and Animal Life offers a new way of thinking about animal rights, our obligation to animals, and the nature of philosophy itself. Cora Diamond begins with “The Difficulty of Reality and the Difficulty of Philosophy,” in which she accuses analytical philosophy of evading, or deflecting, the responsibility of human beings toward nonhuman animals.

Diamond then explores the animal question as it is bound up with the more general problem of philosophical skepticism. Focusing specifically on J. M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals, she considers the failure of language to capture the vulnerability of humans and animals. Stanley Cavell responds to Diamond’s argument with his own close reading of Coetzee’s work, connecting the human-animal relation to further themes of morality and philosophy.

John McDowell follows with a critique of both Diamond and Cavell, and Ian Hacking explains why Cora Diamond’s essay is so deeply perturbing and, paradoxically for a philosopher, he favors poetry over philosophy as a way of overcoming some of her difficulties.

Cary Wolfe’s introduction situates these arguments within the broader context of contemporary continental philosophy and theory, particularly Jacques Derrida’s work on deconstruction and the question of the animal.

Philosophy and Animal Life is a crucial collection for those interested in animal rights, ethics, and the development of philosophical inquiry. It also offers a unique exploration of the role of ethics in Coetzee’s fiction.

Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals by Christine M. Korsgaard

Christine M. Korsgaard presents a compelling new view of humans’ moral relationships to the other animals. She defends the claim that we are obligated to treat all sentient beings as what Kant called “ends-in-themselves”. Drawing on a theory of the good derived from Aristotle, she offers an explanation of why animals are the sorts of beings for whom things can be good or bad.

She then turns to Kant’s argument for the value of humanity to show that rationality commits us to claiming the standing of ends-in-ourselves, in two senses. Kant argued that as autonomous beings, we claim to be ends-in-ourselves when we claim the standing to make laws for ourselves and each other. Korsgaard argues that as beings who have a good, we also claim to be ends-in-ourselves when we take the things that are good for us to be good absolutely and so worthy of pursuit. The first claim commits us to joining with other autonomous beings in relations of moral reciprocity. The second claim commits us to treating the good of every sentient creature as something of absolute importance.

Korsgaard argues that human beings are not more important than the other animals, that our moral nature does not make us superior to the other animals, and that our unique capacities do not make us better off than the other animals. She criticizes the “marginal cases” argument and advances a new view of moral standing as attaching to the atemporal subjects of lives. She criticizes Kant’s own view that our duties to animals are indirect, and offers a non-utilitarian account of the relation between pleasure and the good. She also addresses a number of directly practical questions: whether we have the right to eat animals, experiment on them, make them work for us and fight in our wars, and keep them as pets; and how to understand the wrong that we do when we cause a species to go extinct.

Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka

Zoopolis offers a new agenda for the theory and practice of animal rights. Most animal rights theory focuses on the intrinsic capacities or interests of animals, and the moral status and moral rights that these intrinsic characteristics give rise to.

Zoopolis shifts the debate from the realm of moral theory and applied ethics to the realm of political theory, focusing on the relational obligations that arise from the varied ways that animals relate to human societies and institutions. Building on recent developments in the political theory of group-differentiated citizenship, Zoopolis introduces us to the genuine “political animal”. It argues that different types of animals stand in different relationships to human political communities.

Domesticated animals should be seen as full members of human-animal mixed communities, participating in the cooperative project of shared citizenship. Wild animals, by contrast, form their own sovereign communities entitled to protection against colonization, invasion, domination and other threats to self-determination.

`Liminal’ animals who are wild but live in the midst of human settlement (such as crows or raccoons) should be seen as “denizens”, resident of our societies, but not fully included in rights and responsibilities of citizenship. To all of these animals we owe respect for their basic inviolable rights. But we inevitably and appropriately have very different relations with them, with different types of obligations. Humans and animals are inextricably bound in a complex web of relationships, and Zoopolis offers an original and profoundly affirmative vision of how to ground this complex web of relations on principles of justice and compassion.

Animal Property Rights: A Theory of Habitat Rights for Wild Animals by John Hadley

Animal Property Rights: A Theory of Habitat Rights for Wild Animals represents the first attempt to extend liberal property rights theory across the species barrier to animals. It broadens the traditional focus of animal rights beyond basic rights to life.

Rattling The Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals by Stephen Wise

Rattling the Cage explains how the failure to recognize the basic legal rights of chimpanzees and bonobos in light of modern scientific findings creates a glaring contradiction in our law. In this witty, moving, persuasive, and impeccably researched argument, Wise demonstrates that the cognitive, emotional, and social capacities of these apes entitle them to freedom from imprisonment and abuse.

Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions by Cass R. Sunstein and Martha C. Nussbaum

Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum bring together an all-star cast of contributors to explore the legal and political issues that underlie the campaign for animal rights and the opposition to it.

Addressing ethical questions about ownership, protection against unjustified suffering, and the ability of animals to make their own choices free from human control, the authors offer numerous different perspectives on animal rights and animal welfare. They show that whatever one’s ultimate conclusions, the relationship between human beings and nonhuman animals is being fundamentally rethought. This book offers a state-of-the-art treatment of that rethinking.

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