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190 × 135 × 12 mm
176 pages
88 illustrations, 68 in colour
01 Oct 2010
  • £12.95

Giraffe Mark Williams

Everything about a giraffe – its extraordinary long neck, distinctive camouflage, graceful movement and friendly nature – is instantly recognizable. Consequently the giraffe has fascinated man throughout its history, with its quiet and lofty stance representing in the human psyche virtue, peace and harmony. But while giraffe once roamed the Great Plains of Africa in huge herds, their numbers have greatly diminished and they are now entirely dependent on humanity for their survival.

In Giraffe, Edgar Williams explores not only the unique biology of the tallest animals on earth but also their impact on human history – including in ancient Egypt, where giraffes were kept as exotic pets; the Middle Ages, when giraffes were considered mythical beasts as improbable and mysterious as the dragon; and the Victorian era, in which giraffe hunting was considered an exhilarating sport.

The first book to provide a comprehensive, twenty-first-century view of the giraffe in art, literature, film and popular culture, Giraffe also explores in depth the animal's natural history and the debates surrounding its evolution. This engaging book will appeal to anyone who admires this elegant creature.

‘Williams presents a strong history of giraffes in the human context . . . Williams's book has tremendous warmth, and illustrations from prehistory to the present reinforce our evolving sense of wonder at this gentle long-necked giant.’ — TLS

‘[a] this charming book . . . Giraffe will be read for pleasure, entertainment, and information by all who are interested in the interactions between humans and animals.’ — Anthrozoös

‘a survey of the evolutionary history, physiology and ecology of the animal and a serendipitous account of its appearances in art, lore and literature, all profusely illustrated . . . informative and useful enough to justify a place on library shelves.’ — African Research and Documentation

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Edgar Williams is a Reader in Human Physiology at the University of South Wales. He is the author of Moon: Nature and Culture (2014) in Reaktion’s Earth series and Ostrich (2013) and Giraffe (2011) in Reaktion’s Animal series.

1  The Global Giraffe
2  The Giraffe Inside and Out
3  The Ancient Giraffe from the Stone Age to Victoria
4  The Giraffe Returns to Europe
5  The Modern Giraffe
6  The Cultural Giraffe

Timeline of the Giraffe
Select Bibliography
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements