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Animals in Translation

It’s worthwhile to know a little bit about Temple Grandin before reading this book. She is an adult with autism who is extraordinarily perceptive when it comes to animal psychology and she uses this skill to work with the slaughterhouse industry to help them make their slaughterhouses more humane. She has an autobiography called Thinking in Pictures which is another good read

She co-authored this book with Catherine Johnson, a writer who has two autistic sons. Together they have created a clear concise book about animals and humans and the murky unknown that lies between them. It is Grandin’s well-researched opinion that people with autism lie somewhere along the spectrum of consciousness somewhere between animals and people in terms of how their brains work. As a result, she believe that she and many other autistic people have specific insights into ways the animal brain works. She outlines many of these ideas in this book and gives humans educated guesses why she thinks animals do what they do, and act how they act.

Grandin’s writing style is very precise and direct which I always enjoy. She defines many of her terms, and while she uses a lot of anecdotes, both personal and professional, she’s rarely flowery or hyperbolic. As a result I find her books a lot of fun to read, especially since they touch on difficult issues like slaughterhouse procedures and animal abuse. Seen through Grandin’s dispassionate gaze, we can learn from these examples not just get emotioanlly swept up in them.