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190 × 135 × 12 mm
200 pages
84 illustrations, 68 in colour
01 Nov 2015

Skunk Alyce Miller

Although the skunk generally waddles through life in a peaceful and solitary way, the animal is feared by humans due to the pungent odor it emits when threatened, and has been both demonized and venerated throughout history. Skunk provides the first cultural and natural history of this misfit creature, from their importance in agriculture and the ecosystem to their distinct role in popular culture and myth.

As growing urban wildlife populations bring skunks and humans closer together, Alyce Miller offers a new understanding of an animal that is quickly becoming our new neighbour. She reveals that skunks have a long history of persecution; killed off as smelly nuisances, they have also been hunted both for their fur and their unique musk, for use in perfume. Readers will also learn about the characterization of skunks in literature, film, music, and folklore, from the Warner Brothers cartoon character Pepe Le Pew to Native American beliefs of skunk spirituality.

Skunk offers a shaded depiction of this complex creature, giving an account of their biological significance and diverse role in society in an accessible, humorous way. Whether you believe skunks to be friend or foe, Skunk offers new insights and analysis, and has much to say both to specialists and armchair admirers of these beautiful, intriguing, and distinctive animals.

‘There are skunk manifestations in art, science and even films, music and folklore . . . this one is an entertaining read that offers enough to be usefully informative without becoming nerdish or tedious.’ — Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society

Skunk is an outstanding book . . . not only are skunks fascinating animals, but they also teach us important lessons about the necessity for humane and peaceful coexistence with the animals with whom we share time and space and even our homes.’ — Marc Bekoff, author of Rewilding our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence

‘In an extensive answer to the question Whats black and white and stinks all over? Alyce Miller provides a rich and intriguing cultural history of a misunderstood but fascinating American mammal. Susan Gubar, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Indiana University’ — Quote

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Alyce Miller is an award-winning author, Professor of English at Indiana University, and a family and animal rights pro bono lawyer. Her books include Stopping for Green Lights (1999) and Water (2007).


1. Historical Skunk

2. Skunks in Not So Black and White

3. Essence of Skunk

4. Commodified Skunk

5. Mythological and Spiritual Skunk

6. Never Cry Skunk

7. Popular Skunk

8. Skunk Sanctuary



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