USA/UK (Greystones Books)
She is a ubiquitous presence in all our lives: as a vehicle for both farmers and advertisers, a subject for research scientists and poets, and ever-present in the form of lucky charms, children's toys, or simply as a tasty sandwich-filler. The female of the bovine species is revered as sacred or reviled as stupid, but one thing she never inspires is indifference – after more than ten thousand years living alongside us, she remains a mystery. Combining entertaining anecdotes and an abundance of diverting discoveries, Werner presents the curious cultural history of that most intriguing of animals – the cow.
Zeus metamorphosed one of his favourite mistresses into a cow, while in the baroque era cow's milk was considered proof of the existence of God – but when and where were cows bought and sold for the first time? And exactly what connection do Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Francis Ford Coppola and Aerosmith have with the alluring animal? While cows are always unavoidably on the tips of our tongues – with 60 litres of milk, 23 kilos of cheese and 9 kilos of beef consumed by each of us per annum, The Cow is the first book to provide an analysis of the animal in its countless manifestations, along with outlining its role in different cultures, exploring the ups and downs in the life of a cowherd, and musing on the deeper philosophical significance of chewing the cud. The Cow will be published just in time for the Chinese Year of the Cow 2009 -a reference book, a treasure trove of amusing anecdotes, a cabinet of curios, and a wondrous piece of writing all rolled into one, it is the first ever comprehensive portrait of the most fascinating even-toed ungulate ever to have walked the Earth.
"This is an astute cultural history, supported by a wealth of literary evidence." (Frankfurter Rundschau)