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190 × 135 × 14 mm
208 pages
100 illustrations, 48 in colour
01 Sep 2012
  • £12.95

Kangaroo John Simons

It is difficult to think of any animal more closely associated with a particular nation than the kangaroo; this book places this strange yet beloved creature in the context of Australian and global history, revealing that the relationship between mankind and macropod is darker and more complex than it might seem, and fraught with contradictions. In Kangaroo, John Simons examines the use and abuse of this animal, a favourite at zoos across the world, and its place in culture.

From indigenous Australian societies to the first contacts with Europeans, and from their export for exhibition in the Western world to its adoption as Australia’s ‘national’ animal: the kangaroo evolved at the intersection of very different cultures. And while it has come to represent Australia like no other animal, the kangaroo is still greatly misunderstood there and is at the centre of controversies regarding the eating of its meat and the culling of its populations. The creature’s true diversity has frequently been reduced to a handful of stereotypes – misrepresentations that now threaten the future of the species.

Written in a lively and approachable style, this fascinating pouch-sized look at these engaging creatures will appeal to all kangaroo lovers as well as those concerned with Australian animal welfare and conservation.

‘This fascinating study explores kangaroo art from Stubbs to Skippy, as well as culture from boxing to kangaroo courts’ — The Independent

‘This charming book comes in Reaktions now familiar pouch-sized format, and is crammed with fascinating information, images and ideas . . . With impressive scholarship, engaging humour and wonderful illustrations . . . Simons explains how the kangaroo evolved from Victorian emblem of otherness to national icon. He also explores the ambivalent attitudes of todays urban Australians, and the much deeper cultural resonances in indigenous Australian society.’ — The Independent

‘This study, part of a terrific series, is an entertaining, informed, concise but comprehensive introduction to the beast . . . its the symbolic power of the animal, the way it has become so emblematic of the country here and internationally, from the idealised depictions in Skippy to boxing kangaroos and almost infinite commercial use, to darker depictions in literature and film of kangeroo culls, that preoccupies much of this finely illustrated text.’ — The Age, Melbourne

‘Kangaroos signify the other and, indeed, much about them is outlandish. The species is subject to ignorance, but as Simons argues, it has much to teach us. A thorough and entertaining read about a species too many here take for granted.’ — Sydney Morning Herald

‘A lively, engaging and reflective socio-cultural and environmental history of the kangaroo, from the southern supercontinent Gondwana to Skippy. This is a big history that links the kangaroo to its continent and the humans that have invaded Australia over thousands of years. Richly illustrated throughout, the book interacts with key questions and contradictions of both kangaroo identity and Australian identity . . . A wonderful book.’ — The Biologist

Kangaroo is the latest in a wonderful series on animals that covers every species from apes to wolves . . . John Simons has written a fascinating book about this strange but loved animal, going back to the first indigenous societies and the Aboriginals relationship with them . . . This fascinating pouch-sized book with its hundreds of stunning drawings and photographs will appeal to all kangaroo lovers.’ — The Toowoomba Chronicle

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John Simons is Executive Dean in the Faculty of Arts at Macquarie University, Sydney, and a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. His other books include Animal Rights and the Politics of Literary Representation (2002), Rossettis Wombat (2008) ) and The Tiger that Swallowed the Boy: Exotic Animals in Victorian England (forthcoming, 2012).

1. What is a Kangaroo?
2. The Kangaroo Meets its New Neighbours
3. The Kangaroo at Home
4. The Kangaroo Abroad
5. Tailpiece: The Curious Kangaroo

Timeline of the Kangaroo
Select Bibliography
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements