Meet the Neighbors: Animal Minds and Life in a More-than-Human World (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Keim’s journey into animal minds begins with dozens of delightful, and probably surprising, stories about undeniably intelligent and sensitive animals. Next, the author examines philosophers’ thinking about animals, which isn’t pretty. Since the Greeks, philosophers (and religions) have, with few exceptions, belittled any consideration of animal welfare. Thankfully, this has been changing for the better since the 1980s. Keim looks next at pest control and then at treatment of wild animals. In both cases, cruelty has historically been the norm, but compassion is becoming more common both philosophically and in practice. Thank you, Brandon Keim, for this passionate, thought-provoking review of recent leaps in understanding animal minds, and the enormous gaps that humans need to bridge in light of this new knowledge. Your book deserves a wide audience.

— Kay Wosewick


What does the science of animal intelligence mean for how we understand and live with the wild creatures around us?

Honeybees deliberate democratically. Rats reflect on the past. Snakes have friends. In recent decades, our understanding of animal cognition has exploded, making it indisputably clear that the cities and landscapes around us are filled with thinking, feeling individuals besides ourselves. But the way we relate to wild animals has yet to catch up. In Meet the Neighbors, acclaimed science journalist Brandon Keim asks: what would it mean to take the minds of other animals seriously?

In this wide-ranging, wonder-filled exploration of animals’ inner lives, Keim takes us into courtrooms and wildlife hospitals, under backyard decks and into deserts, to meet anew the wild creatures who populate our communities and the philosophers, rogue pest controllers, ecologists, wildlife doctors, and others who are reimagining our relationships to them. If bats trade favors and groups of swans vote to take off by honking, should we then see them as fellow persons—even members of society? When we come to understand the depths of their pleasures and pains, the richness of their family lives and their histories, what do we owe so-called pests and predators, or animals who are sick or injured? Can thinking of nonhumans as our neighbors help chart a course to a kinder, gentler planet? As Keim suggests, the answers to these questions are central to how we understand not only the rest of the living world, but ourselves.

A beguiling invitation to discover an expanded sense of community and kinship beyond our own species, Meet the Neighbors opens our eyes to the world of vibrant intelligence just outside our doors.

About the Author

Brandon Keim is an independent journalist specializing in animals, nature, and science. His work appears regularly in the New York Times, Atlantic, Nautilus, National Geographic, and elsewhere. He lives in Bangor, Maine.

Praise For…

A heartfelt and unique look at the inner life of animals and how we so often fail to understand them…Sure to be an instant classic.
— Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation

Few writers plumb the lives of our nonhuman brethren with more sensitivity and originality than Brandon Keim…You’ll surely feel new empathy for your local raccoons, robins, and rats after reading this profound, big-hearted book.
— Ben Goldfarb, author of Crossings and Eager

An indispensable companion…Keim’s book opens our eyes to the wonder in our midst, from the smallest bee to the wittiest coyote. What we learn should change how the law treats animals, how society treats them, and how we treat them as neighbors.
— Alexandra Horowitz, New York Times best-selling author of Inside of a Dog and Our Dogs, Ourselves

Does your love of animals fill you with wonder about how they experience being alive? And do you wonder what to do with your feelings for animals? Author Brandon Keim has filled these pages with intelligence and generosity. This is a mind-opening, heart-healing book.

— Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words and Alfie and Me

Meet the Neighbors invites each of us to reimagine how we view and treat our animal kin. Rich in behavioral insights and crafted with unstinted empathy, [it] calls for a profound cultural shift…Open minds and hearts will be rewarded.

— Sean B. Carroll, biologist and author of The Serengeti Rules and A Series of Fortunate Events

A love letter to nature…It shows us how humans are part of the tapestry that is life, and how we can join and support the community of other nonhuman persons…This is the kind of thinking that needs to be nurtured. It gives us inspiration to respect, to care, and to be connected.
— Craig Foster, creator of My Octopus Teacher

Keim presents all of this information with insight and compassion. . . . [Meet the Neighbors is] a comprehensive guide to thinking of animals not as anonymous creatures, but as individuals.

— Kirkus

Product Details
ISBN: 9781324007081
ISBN-10: 1324007087
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: July 16th, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English