January 31, 2005 12:00 PM

by Temple Grandin

CRITIC’S CHOICE

Author of Thinking in Pictures, a 1995 memoir about the way autism has given her a rare perspective into the animal mind, Grandin is a star in the world of animal science. An associate professor at Colorado State University, Grandin is quirky, scholarly and impassioned, and she has positioned herself as an advocate for “agricultural animals,” working on quality-of-life issues including the creation of humane slaughterhouses. In her new book she sets out to explain what the world looks like from a nonhuman point of view, drawing on 30 years of field experience and academic research. The results are fascinating: The author explains that critters’ emotions are polarized; to a dog, there’s love, hate and nothing in-between. But animal intelligence, she writes, has multiple dimensions. Not only are many creatures equipped with a keen survival instinct but they possess a kind of “genius [that] is probably the same thing as autistic savantry”: Dogs have warned patients that a seizure is imminent and migratory birds have “extreme memory.” If you’re in the thrall of a dog, cat, pig or parrot, you’ll take to this book—it’s full of heart, soul and crackling intelligence.

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