From the milk we drink in the morning to the leather shoes we slip on for the day, to the steak we savour at dinner, our daily lives are thoroughly bound up with the cow. Yet there is a far more complex story behind this seemingly benign creature, which Hannah Velten explores here, plumbing the rich trove of myth, fact and legend surrounding the cow, bull and ox. From the plowing field to the rodeo to the temple, Velten tracks the constantly changing social relationship between men and cattle, beginning with the domestication of aurochs around 9000 BC. From there, "Cow" launches into a fascinating story of religious fanaticism, scientific exploits and the revolutionary economic transformations engendered by the trade of the numerous products derived from the cow and bull. Velten explores in engaging detail how despite the creature's prominence at two ends of a wide spectrum Hinduism venerates the cow as one of the most sacred members of the animal kingdom, while beef is a prized staple of the Western diet the animal is essentially viewed today as a objectified commodity more than as a living creature.
Thought-provoking and informative, "Cow" restores this oft-overlooked herbivore to the nobility it richly deserves.