Second Nature: The Animal-Rights Controversy


254 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88794-149-4





Reviewed by Ingrid vonHausen

Ingrid conHausen was a librarian in New Hamburg, Ontario.


In 1983 Herscovici prepared a three-part series for the CBC “Ideas” program entitled “Men and Animals: A New Relationship with Nature.” This book is based on that program. Herscovici is also a novelist and journalist.

Part One of the volume takes a wide-ranging look at the philosophical basis of our relationship with animals, explaining Hebrew, Christian, and Hindu attitudes. It includes a brief history of the ecology movement, out of which the animal-rights groups grew, and the last chapter outlines the attitude of a Cree hunter.

Part Two examines the 20-year seal controversy. There is a chapter on trapping, a very interesting chapter on the Canadian fur industry, and a final chapter on factory farms and animal research.

The third part of the book, briefest of all, is a call for a better relationship with nature, drawing on Cree attitudes and Albert Schweitzer’s “ethic of reverence of life,” among others.

The text throughout is accompanied by black-and-white photos. This book brings perspective on the emotionally charged issues that hit the media regularly. The author deals sternly with Greenpeace, Brian Davies of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and others. He argues strongly that “some animal-rights campaigns show the dangers of one part of society interfering without comprehension of the lifestyle and values of other parts of society” (p. 11). He contends that many animal rights groups have taken an adversarial stance in order to gain their ends, ignoring wider ecological concerns out of ignorance or short-sightedness. His moderate position brings a lot of sympathy for the sealers, the trappers, and the native hunters who seem to have become villains in the media and who really are very much at risk because of the activities of the animal-rights activists.

Rabid animal-rights supporters will not be convinced, but this book is invaluable for students and thoughtful readers who wish a balanced treatment of this subject.


Herscovici, Alan, “Second Nature: The Animal-Rights Controversy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,