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Tamed and Untamed

Close Encounters of the Animal Kind

By Sy Montgomery, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas


Extraordinary new insights into the minds and lives of our fellow creatures from two of the world’s top animal authors, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Sy Montgomery.

A Mail on Sunday “Critic’s Pick” Best Read of the Year

“In their writing and in their lives and in their remarkable friendship, Liz and Sy break down false barriers and carry us closer to our fellow creatures.”—from the foreword by Vicki Constantine Croke, author of Elephant Company

Tamed and Untamed―a collection of essays penned by two of the world’s most celebrated animal writers, Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas―explores the minds, lives, and mysteries of animals as diverse as snails, house cats, hawks, sharks, dogs, lions, and even octopuses.

Drawing on stories of animals both wild and domestic, the two authors, also best friends, created this book to put humans back into the animal world. The more we learn about what other animals think and do, they explain, the more we understand ourselves as animals, too. Writes Montgomery, “The list of attributes once thought to be unique to our species―from using tools to waging war―is not only rapidly shrinking, but starting to sound less and less impressive when we compare them with other animals’ powers.”

With humor, empathy, and introspection, Montgomery and Thomas look into the lives of all kinds of creatures―from man’s best friend to the great white shark―and examine the ways we connect with our fellow species. Both authors have devoted their lives to sharing the animal kingdom’s magic with others, and their combined wisdom is an indispensable contribution to the field of animal literature.

The book contains a foreword by Vicki Constantine Croke, author of the bestseller Elephant Company.

Reviews and Praise

Library Journal-

"Best-selling authors and best friends, naturalists Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus) and Thomas (The Hidden Life of Dogs), partner on this engaging collection adapted from their joint columns from The Boston Globe. The essays explore the minds, lives, intelligence, and mysteries of wild and domestic animals. Both have spent most of their lives studying and researching animal behavior and share a worldview that questions a human-centric sense of superiority, as reflected in their insightful essays. Some impressions come from their respective New Hampshire surroundings, which include their own dogs and cats, deer, mice, chickens, slugs, and worms. They also share observations of animals seen on their various international research trips including pink dolphins, lions, hyenas, and hyraxes (a small African mammal). Reflections on love among octopuses, the death of a dog, and a visit from a Christmas ermine are quietly eloquent. VERDICT: Armchair and active naturalists will enjoy and learn from the authors’ enlightened perceptions on the intricate relationship between humans and animals in this thought-provoking collection."

“In their writing and in their lives and in their remarkable friendship, Liz and Sy break down false barriers and carry us closer to our fellow creatures.”—from the foreword by Vicki Constantine Croke, author of Elephant Company

“Two kindred spirits treat animals as they ought to be treated, with understanding, knowledge, and humor. These well-crafted essays are a pleasure to read and make you marvel at our fellow travelers on this planet.”—Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? 

“Are humans the ultimate species? Nope, not according to these authors. Water bears are: They have been around for 500 million years and will survive after we destroy the planet. Will chickens in your backyard sooner or later give you a name? Do eels dream? Can an octopus have a sense of humor? Read and learn. This is an absolutely enchanting book that anybody who loves animals will not only want to own but also to give to good friends. It is full of precious lines and deep wisdom, and there is a delicious sense of humor throughout. The authors constantly bring us back to the recognition that we are just one among millions of remarkable animals, each one worthy of study and deep admiration, the kind these very authors accord them.”—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of Dogs Never Lie About Love; coauthor of When Elephants Weep

“Two of the most tuned-in people in the world have now given us these marvelous narratives of nonhuman beings living their lives on our shared planet. This is exactly what we need more of. We need to understand who we are here with. And, more and more urgently, to understand that we are not alone on our planet. As humans become more isolated and alienated, stories of other animals offer us our best chance for succeeding at being human.”—Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

“I cannot recommend highly enough this memorable collection of essays about the secret life of animals from two of the most thought-provoking, animal-savvy writers of this time, Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. A must-read for anyone interested in all creatures great and small.”—Nicholas Dodman, DVM, author of Pets on the Couch; professor emeritus, Tufts University

“A beautifully written, fascinating compendium of essays about many species with whom we share our planet. Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas impart their insights into the behavior of a variety of nonhumans in this extremely informative and thought-provoking read.”—Irene M. Pepperberg, author of Alex & Me

Tamed and Untamed is a beautiful duet between two of the world’s finest nature writers. These enchanting essays bring to life creatures both novel and familiar, from pink dolphins to domestic dogs, war elephants to garden slugs. Each chapter reveals a new animal mystery and adds to the menagerie of our minds.”—Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room

Tamed and Untamed is a gem of a book. Written by two incredibly gifted writers, it’s a multicourse buffet of wonderful and thought-provoking stories about the surprising and wide-ranging intelligence, and deep and rich emotional lives of many different nonhuman animals. These eloquent authors weave solid science into their stories so that nonresearchers can well understand what is happening in the heads and hearts of the dogs, cats, rats, hawks, octopuses, and many other animals about whom they write. The bottom line is that we are not all that unique among the fascinating and diverse beings who are called ‘animals’ and with whom we share our magnificent planet. They, like this book, are gifts we must cherish.”—Marc Bekoff, author of Rewilding Our Hearts; coauthor of The Animals’ Agenda

“Who but Sy Montgomery could describe a hawk’s eyes as having ‘an intensity stronger than rage and brighter than joy’? Who but Elizabeth Marshall Thomas would take in a wild mouse, ‘sort of like helping a relative’? This is a book to cherish, full of enlightenment, curiosity, and admiration for all things animal. I loved it.”—Patricia McConnell, author of The Education of Will

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