Author Mark Essig did a tremendous research to gather material in writing Lesser Beasts. Since his writing skill is excellent, this book is a good read – nevertheless, there is far more material here than the average reader may be willing to tackle. This is more in the arena of academic writing; very detailed and filled with information well beyond most readers’ attention span.
“…an American farm woman who in 1849 greeted the arrival of the year’s first litter with this entry in her diary: ‘Pigs! Pigs! Pigs! Pork! Pork!’”
The volume ends with a thirty-eight page chapter by chapter notes section, including references. The text is only sporadically illustrated with small monochrome sketches but it is broken up by many anecdotes, jokes and quotations. Each chapter begins with a historic story that draws the reader into the meat of the chapter. The central focus of the text is the pig and every aspect of it imaginable: its origin as forest dweller, domestication, history, its evolution, and finally the hybrid created between Chinese and European wild pigs to arrive to the creature we eat today. We learn about the production line in the mid-1800s processing plants to convert every part of the pig into pork, from snout to tail. Finally we arrive to the leaner pigs of today and the confinement operation of large operations.
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