Bred for Perfection: Shorthorn Cattle, Collies, and Arabian Horses since 1800 (Animals, History, Culture)

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9780801873447: Bred for Perfection: Shorthorn Cattle, Collies, and Arabian Horses since 1800 (Animals, History, Culture)
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How did animal breeding emerge as a movement? Who took part and for what reasons? How do the pedigree and market systems work? What light might the movement shed on the assumptions behind human eugenics?

In Bred for Perfection, Margaret Derry provides the most comprehensive and accessible book yet published on the human quest to improve and develop livestock. Derry, herself a breeder and trained historian of science, explores the "triangle" of genetics, eugenics, and practical breeding, focusing on Shorthorn cattle, show dogs and working dogs, and one type of purebred horse, the Arabian. By examining specific breeders and the animals they produced, she illuminates the role of technology, genetics, culture, and economics in the system of purebred breeding. Bred for Perfection also provides the historical context in which this system arose, adding to our understanding of how domestication works and how our welfare―since the dawn of time―has been intertwined with the lives of animals.

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About the Author:

Margaret E. Derry is an adjunct professor of history at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and an associated scholar in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto. She is the author of Ontario's Cattle Kingdom: Purebred Breeders and Their World, 1870–1920.

Review:

"In this engaging and carefully researched book... Derry admirably exposes the foibles and eccentricities of pedigree breeders and discusses the many factors motivating their activities... It is a detailed study of obsession, of the conflict between pedigree and commercial concerns and the unspoken belief among breeders that line breeding animals and line breeding people amounted to much the same thing!"

(Agricultural History Review)

"Derry's study of animal breeding since 1800 makes a valuable contribution to the series and to the growing field of animal history."

(Journal of the History of Biology)

"Derry details the intricacies of pedigree recording, which greatly influences breeding decisions, monetary values, and trade. Much of this book reviews the social factors that have impacted pedigreed breeding."

(Choice)

"An excellent book. In showing how animal improvement served both economic and social purposes, Derry tells much about the nature of human beings."

(University of Toronto Quarterly)

"In this book, Margaret Derry―pedigree cattle breeder, livestock artist, and historian―explores the improvement of Shorthorn cattle, Collie dogs, and Arabian horses in Britain and North America since the eighteenth century. Though the three breeds are no more alike than chalk and cheese, the same threads run through their histories. Derry ranges widely and with assurance across this many-faceted subject, shedding light on matters hitherto opaque or obscure. Her book is an engaging exploration of the not-always-creative tensions between science, aesthetics, and the profit motive in the history of animal breeding over the last two centuries."

(John R. Walton, University of Wales, Aberystwyth)

"Offers a succession of fascinating insights that will intrigue even historians with little previous interest in agriculture or sports... Essential reading for anyone interested in the human modification of nature."

(Technology and Culture)

"This book... fills a substantial gap in scholarship."

(Paul White British Journal for the History of Science)

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