THE WHOLE HOG: Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs

Lyall Watson, Author . Smithsonian $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-58834-216-4

Naturalist Watson offers a worthy successor to 2002's well-received Elephantoms with an entertaining and highly informative survey of the humble pig that blends scientific fact with personal insight. Watson investigates several distinct pig types, including bushpigs, wild boars, forest hogs and peccaries ("Honorary Pigs"), and offers anecdotes about his childhood pet warthog—"Hoover was a gentleman," he recalls fondly. With an eye to "counteract some of our misguided perceptions about [pigs] and shed some light instead on creatures a lot like ourselves," his analysis of the pig snout shows how it is "at the same time arm, hand, spade and primary sense organ"; his discussion of pigs' ears ("like radar dishes") and vocalizations offers insight into the animals' communication system; and a run down of human/pig structural similarities (and the resultant crucial role pigs have come to play in modern medicine) may put some folks off their pork and chops. Anthropology, biology, geography, psychology are all here in a clearly written, amiable text peppered with trivia tidbits (Josephine Baker used perfumed dancing pigs in her stage act) and lots of photos. Even those who read but a handful of these pages will find their opinion of pigs much rosier. 45 color illus. not seen by PW . Agent, Harold Ober. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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