Animal rights is a cause embraced by millions around the globe who, through charitable organizations, government-sponsored initiatives or simple acts of compassion, protect and defend all manner of creatures. Here are some titles that will hearten animal-lovers and perhaps change the views of a few others.
1 THE BOND: Our Kinship With Animals, Our Call to Defend Them , by Wayne Pacelle (Morrow, $26.99). “One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.” That quotation attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. captures the spirit of this book — some might say manifesto — by the president of the Humane Society of the United States. We’re given a grim tour of the marked devaluation of animals as society evolved and the myriad ways that people have stood up to demand change.
2 LISTED: Dispatches From America’s Endangered Species Act , by Joe Roman, (Harvard Univ., $27.95). A researcher at the University of Vermont, Roman offers revealing case studies on the effects of the Endangered Species Act, which has been under attack almost since becoming law in 1973. Complaints have focused on the burdens placed on governments and citizens. Roman counters by making the case that protecting species can benefit both the environment and business.
3 CHERISHED: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost , edited by Barbara Abercrombie (New World Library; Paperback, $14.95). Contributors to this anthology of writings about the death of a beloved pet include Thomas McGuane and Jane Smiley (on horses), Jacqueline Winspear (on a black Lab), Mark Doty (on his dogs Beau and Arden), Carolyn See (on a wolf-mix taken in as a stray) and Jenny Rough (on a Persian-mix feline). No pet enthusiast can browse these stories and not be moved. As the owner of an elderly Maine coon, I’d rather not have to relate to them too soon.