For The Dogs,
And Dog Lovers

9780307961761_ef6aaPit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon, Bronwen Dickey (PRH/Knopf; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample) is rising on Amazon due to featured coverage on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Breaking into the top 100, Dickey’s exploration of the cultural life and history of the breed details how it went from a symbol of American can-do spirit and beloved mascot (it was the iconic dog of RCA records, side-kick in the Buster Brown comics, and starred in the Our Gang films) to a racially charged symbol of the urban poor and “super predator.”

OriginalNipperUsing science to dispel myths surrounding the breed’s inclination towards violence, strength of bite, and “instinctive” fighting behavior, Dickey turns the conversation about these dogs towards a reasoned, enlightened, rational one, making the case that the dogs were never “willing participants in their own torture.”

The compelling conversation with Terry Gross is not just about pit bulls. Dickey also tells the story of dachshunds and how, after WWI, they were discriminated against because they were thought to be German allies. So violent was the association, breeders in America sought to change their names to Liberty pups.

Dickey, who is the daughter of author and poet James Dickey (Deliverance) and sister to journalist Christopher Dickey, sells the book well, coming across as lucid, careful, precise, generous, thoughtful, and inviting.

Holds are not yet taking off but this is just the kind of book that will circulate well from new book shelves and displays. It is also likely to become a standard work on the breed for years to come.

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