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Book Review: Growl by Kim Stallwood

News Icon 29/04/2015

GROWL: Life lessons, hard truths and bold strategies from an animal advocate

by Kim Stallwood (Lantern Books, 2014)

No one ever said that caring about animals was easy. Especially in a world with a long way to go before animal cruelty is a thing of the past. Being struck by the plight of others and wanting to do something about it can be a lonely place. For anyone starting down this road afresh, Growl is the perfect companion.

In fact, Stallwood himself declares this book the one he would have “loved” to read when he first set off along the path of trying to make sense of man’s relationship with animals. That was his very motivation in writing it.

His autobiographical characters enthuse life and humour; from walking the dog with Camberley Kate to speeding down the American freeway eating meat-free hotdogs from a tin. He shares thoughts on how to avoid getting stuck in what he describes as the ‘misanthropic bunker’, becoming isolationist and seeing things in terms of animals versus people, when really it should be about both.

He sheds insight into the history of the animal movement on both sides of the Atlantic. I particularly enjoyed reading about the early days at Compassion in World Farming; Stallwood was its very first campaigns director way back in the mid-1970s.

Through his own experiences, the author navigates the complex web of thoughts, emotions and motivations that can buffet those who want to make the world a better place for animals and people. He lays bare personal flaws with engaging honesty. He crystalizes what it means to care deeply for others of a different species.

Amongst sharp observations and lessons befitting a scholar steeped in his subject, this book shares all. Stallwood pours forty years of hard lessons into this synthesis of humane thought. Growl gives us a rare glimpse of life as one of the animal movement’s most enduring leaders.


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