|Pages/Publication Date:||274 / 2011|
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Griffin|
Why would someone want to create or own the mounted skin of a dead animal? Exploring that question, Dave Madden begins his journey with the life story of Carl Akeley, the father of modern taxidermy. Akeley started small by stuffing a canary, but by the end of his life he had created the astonishing Akeley Hall of African Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History. What Akeley strove for, and what fascinates Madden, is the attempt by the taxidermist to replicate the authentic animal, looking as though it's still alive. To get a first-hand glimpse at this world, Madden traveled to the World Taxidermy Championships, the garage workplaces of people who mount freeze-dried pets for bereaved owners, and the classrooms of a taxidermy academy where students stretch deer pelts over foam bases. Looking at the many forms taxidermy takes—hunting trophies, museum dioramas, roadside novelties, pet memorials—he considers what taxidermy has to tell us about human-animal relationships, in this entertaining and thought-provoking blend of history, biology, and philosophy.
"Don't let the gory subject matter repel you from this charming account of the cast of kings, artists, biologists, circus performers, and ordinary folks who populate the world of taxidermy. Madden's investigation is marked by appealing candor, literary references, and atmospheric descriptions of (and fondness for) the subculture and its adherents.... This book muses with verve and wit on the relationships between human and animal, art and artifact, as well as on the collector's obsession."—Publishers Weekly