Adam's Task by Vicki Hearne

Adam's Task

By Vicki Hearne

  • Release Date: 2016-10-25
  • Genre: Pets
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A groundbreaking exploration of the enduring bond between humans and their animal companions.
Audubon magazine named Adam’s Task one of the thirteen most significant nature books published in the last hundred years, and Susan Sontag hailed it as a “fascinating, incisive work of moral imagination.” Vicki Hearne’s innovative masterpiece on animal training brings our perennial discussion of the human-animal relationship to a whole new level.
Based on her studies of literary criticism and philosophy, as well as extensive hands-on experience in training, Hearne believes that animals are far more intelligent than we assume. In fact, they are capable of developing an understanding of “the good,” a moral code that influences their motives and actions. Drawing on an eclectic range of influences—Nietzsche, T. S. Eliot, Disney animal trainer William Koehler, and the Biblical Book of Genesis, among others—Hearne brilliantly interweaves personal anecdotes with philosophical meditations. The end result is an entirely new system of animal training that contradicts modern animal behavioral research and that, as her examples show, is astonishingly effective.
Widely praised, highly influential, and now with a new foreword by New York Times–bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler, Adam’s Task will make every trainer, animal psychologist, and animal lover stop, think, and question.
“There is no finer book than this one about the way language entwines humans and animals.” — Audubon magazine
“When Ms. Hearne relates a dog or horse story, the animals become full-fledged characters, as brightly delineated as people created by Dickens or Twain.” —The New York Times

“[A] fascinating, incisive work of moral imagination.” —Susan Sontag
“A beautiful, wonderful book . . . that permanently refreshes thought and feeling.” —The Boston Globe
“As witty, wise and rare a book as has come along in some time.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“This wonderful book will become essential to anyone who chooses to live with a horse, dog, or cat.” —David Leavitt
“A fascinating and often surprising discussion of animal-human encounters.” —The Atlantic Monthly
“This engrossing treatise on animal behavior and interspecies communication provides an astute and possibly unique synthesis of a domestic animal trainer's practical knowledge and the intellectually more distant and even sterile theories of the academic world.” —Library Journal
“Through luminous anecdotes, she . . . develops rigorous and beautiful descriptions of the transactions between animals and people, what they entail, and what the expectations—on both sides—are.” —Publishers Weekly

Vicki Hearne was an accomplished scholar of linguistics, literature, philosophy, and behavioral psychology, as well as a poet. She was a professor at Yale University and operated a dog-training school for years in Westbrook, Connecticut.
Donald McCaig is the author of Jacob’sLadder, Rhett Butler’sPeople, and Canaan. He and his wife, Anne, work a sheep farm in the western mountains of Virginia.
Karen Joy Fowler is a New York Times–bestselling author of six novels, including The Jane Austen Book Club and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.