THE PAWPRINTS OF HISTORY: Dogs and the Course of Human Events

Stanley Coren, Author, Andy Bartlett, Illustrator . Free Press $25 (322p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2228-0

Spiced with wit and mellowed with charm, Coren's anecdote-laden survey of canine-human interspecies history is a solid read. From stories about the diminutive 18th-century intellectual poet Alexander Pope and his protective Great Dane, Bounce, to Teddy Roosevelt's mixed breed, horseback-riding companion, Skip, Coren (How to Speak Dog) deftly draws the reader into both literary salons and political realms alike. The book ranges from ancient Egypt and medieval Japan to 19th-century Vienna and 21st-century Washington, D.C. Here are dogs of every breed as well as their owners, who include emperors, scoundrels, saints and artists: a Newfoundland named Robber offered Richard Wagner company while he was in Paris completing Rienzi and The Flying Dutchman. Coren recounts stirring sagas of dog heroism in everyday life as well as in wartime, from antiquity to the modern era (the Spanish conquistadors fortified their military with dogs, and "the cruellest of the Spanish leaders would use the dogs as a means of public execution. This was known as 'dogging' "). The tales are well told and thoughtfully constructed, nicely balanced with solid historical research. Each chapter works nicely as a self-contained essay, and these vignettes build to tell an informative and entertaining story of canine camaraderie. Illus. not seen by PW. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
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