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Cows, bulls, and oxen are everywhere, physically and figuratively: references, images and symbolism abound in myth, folklore, religion, art, literature, film and the media; even cities have been created around cattle. This ubiquity is undoubtedly due to their long and close association with mankind: since earliest times the power of aurochs (wild oxen) has been harnessed to plow fields, and they also provided meat, milk, milk products such as cheese and butter, leather, horn, and a myriad other useful and valuable goods to early humans. Early civilisations regarded these animals as their wealth, and revered and respected them in religious and secular life. In modern civilisations, however, we have lost this intimate relationship: cattle are now viewed mainly as commodities, set apart from our daily lives. While we are still exploiting the usefulness of cattle, we rarely give them the respect they are due.
"Cow", by Hannah Velten, re-introduces the cow, the bull and the ox to the modern reader. It aims to make people think about the animals that are producing their beef, milk and leather, and to see them, once again, as mythical and awe-inspiring. The book begins with the domestication of the auroch around 9,000 BC, and moves through time and around the globe, charting the changing social relationship of man and cattle through myth, folklore, religion, art, literature and film. Containing more than 100 illustrations, with over 30 in colour, "Cow" is a lively and also thought-provoking re-introduction to these noble and majestic creatures.
Hannah Velten is a freelance journalist who lives in East Sussex, UK. She has many years practical experience working with cows and oxen, ranging from cattle stations in Australia to dairy farms in the UK, as well as working as a livestock reporter for Farmers Weekly magazine.
... the book's design and illustrations are beautiful ... Velten has a passion for her subject and it comes across. Her account is sweeping but precisely detailed, and subtly persuasive. You come to believe her theme isn't odd at all: this kind of study and awareness should be mainstream. Look hard at cows and you learn about humans. Fascinating and delightful. Financial Times Magazine ... a great book ... a fascinating mix of history, myth and record prices paid for top breeding animals. Eastern Daily Press ... an enjoyable read ... Cow deserves a place on the bookshelf of everyone concerned for the welfare of animals. Outrage