An American Trilogy: Death, Slavery, and Dominion on the Banks of the Cape Fear River

Steven M. Wise, Author . Da Capo $26 (289p) ISBN 978-0-306-81475-4

Industrial hog farming joins slavery and massacres of Native Americans on the list of Christianity’s sins in this muddled manifesto. Animal-rights litigator Wise (Rattling the Cage ) investigates the titular North Carolina riverbank, where Smithfield Foods’ pig slaughterhouse now occupies land once worked by slaves and, earlier, inhabited by Indians before Europeans evicted them. The point of his ham-fisted and somewhat offensive comparison is that, in contrast to the Indians’ fauna-friendly religion, Christian teachings license a cruel “dominion” over animals, just as they once justified slavery and violence against indigenous peoples. Wise’s disorganized exposé of the pork industry lumps genuine outrages together with banalities; he seethes when pork scientists treat pigs as statistics rather than as individuals and frowns on paintings of pigs at the World Pork Expo. Worse, his thesis that religious beliefs drive the mistreatment of animals is overstated—it was spiritual malaise more than economic interests, he speculates, that caused Native Americans to start overhunting deer for colonial deerskin export markets. Readers who root around a bit will find more cogent discussions of animal-rights issues elsewhere. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 302 pages - 978-0-7867-4539-5
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-306-81865-3
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