Nonfiction November – Be The Expert

/ posted in: Reading

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Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).  Hosted by Julz

I’m going to do this a bit differently.  I found myself reading books that fit into two categories this month.  They are all very good and you should really read them if the topics interest you at all.


The History of Animals

I’ve been reading two amazing books that fit this premise.

Pit Bull: The Battle over an American IconPit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey

“The hugely illuminating story of how a popular breed of dog became the most demonized and supposedly the most dangerous of dogs—and what role humans have played in the transformation.”

I actually bought my own copy of this book when I had to give back the library copy because there is so much in here that I want to remember. Just a few of the topics that it covers are DNA testing, dangerous dog laws, and racism in animal welfare.

I love pit bulls. They are so sweet. Most of them rival Golden Retrievers for pure enthusiasm about going to the vet. I’ve held a lapful of wriggling happy dog while the owner told me about how the dog was seized out of the ring by the police and had to stay in a shelter for a year while his previous owner went to trial before he could be adopted. We refer to “Being Mauled by a Pit Bull” as that state when you have to curl up a bit to try to avoid a deliriously happy dog who is intent on licking your face at high speed while also wagging his tail so fast and hard that are you in danger of being beaten black and blue by it.

The Perfect Horse: The Daring American Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the NazisThe Perfect Horse: The Daring American Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts

“As the Russians closed in on Hitler from the east and the Allies attacked from the west, American soldiers discovered a secret Nazi effort to engineer a master race of the finest purebred horses. With the support of U.S. general George S. Patton, a passionate equestrian, the Americans planned an audacious mission to kidnap these beautiful animals and smuggle them into safe territory—assisted by a daring Austrian colonel who was both a former Olympian and a trainer of the famous Lipizzaner stallions.”

I thought I knew this story. I’ve read about it and there was Disney movie about it even. But this book is giving more background into the mindset about horses in the Third Reich. I got really mad in the first chapters when the Germans changed dressage scores in the Berlin Olympics so the German riders won. I mean the Nazis committed so many atrocities that it is a bit wrong that this offended me so much but seriously, dressage scores? You just don’t do that. I had to walk away for a bit.
It also focuses a lot on Polish horse breeding during the time. I’m 1/4 Polish and a horse person. So I got mad every time the Russians showed up and started slaughtering horses in Poland just to be jerks. I’ve been texting my husband and calling my mother randomly as I read whenever I get mad at the Russians for a new reason. Now I know Russians + Horses = unmitigated disaster.

I sighed about something the other day and my husband yelled patiently from the other room, “What did the Russians do now?”


Being a Doctor

Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of DiagnosisEvery Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders

“Through dramatic stories of patients with baffling symptoms, Sanders portrays the absolute necessity and surprising difficulties of getting the patient’s story, the challenges of the physical exam, the pitfalls of doctor-to-doctor communication, the vagaries of tests, and the near calamity of diagnostic errors.”

Getting a good history is hard, especially in my world where we aren’t talking to the patient but to a third party who may or may not have observed the real problem. Doctors and patients talk differently. (My pet peeve is when I ask if a pet is itchy and the owner says “No, but he does scratch a lot.) Physical exam is such an important part of the veterinary world that it always amazes me when I venture into the human medical world and physicals often aren’t done. I’m also inordinately proud that I knew what was going on in the first case in this book and the people doctors didn’t. This was written by the medical advisor to the TV show House.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

“In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.”

This is my current audiobook. Again, here is a huge difference between human and veterinary medicine. What we would consider cruelty in end of life care is routine in human care. How can the process of aging be done better? How do you step away from making safety such an overwhelming priority that it interferes with letting people live a good life?