BOOKS: Animal Rights: History and Scope of a Radical Social Movement

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1998:

Animal Rights:
History and Scope
of a Radical
Social Movement
by Harold D. Guither
Southern Illinois University Press (POB
3697, Carbondale, IL 62901), 1998.
287 pages, paperback, $25.00.

Harold D. Guither, professor
emeritus of agricultural policy at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
offers in Animal Rights: History and Scope
of a Radical Social Movement the most thorough,
dispassionate, statistically documented
analysis of the animal rights movement
yet published. Though Guither approaches
the topic from an agribusiness perspective, it
would be unfair to characterize him as antianimal
rights. Guither’s philosophical position

is self-evidently “animal welfare,” not
“animal rights,” but within that position he
finds plenty of room for empathy with many
animal rights goals and campaigns, and if
one is familiar with other literature about the
animal rights movement from agribusiness
sources, one will note his systematic rejection
of the stereotyping and paranoia characterizing
most of the rest. Guither’s motive in
writing seems to be nothing more sinister
than curiosity, he emphasizes fairness and
accuracy, and if he is to be faulted for anything
in his approach, it may be for describing
only hits, runs, and errors, omitting
color commentary. His work is informative;
it is unlikely to become controversial.
Guither’s capsule histories and
biographies of major organizations and individuals
involved in the animal rights movement
may be of particular value to newcomers
to the cause, as they try to sort out who’s
who and why X doesn’t work with Z. In this
regard it should be noted that Guither is
astute at recognizing people whose work is
mainly behind the scenes. Paradoxically,
Guither pays no more than passing attention
to marine mammal issues; thus Paul Watson
is mentioned only once, with no capsule bio
and no index reference, and other marine
mammal activists are mentioned not at all.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.