Belozerskaya, Marina. The Medici Giraffe: And Other Tales of Exotic Animals and Power. New York: Little, Brown and, 2006. Print.
Marina Belozerskaya’s The Medici Giraffe is an examination of the question why are animals taken for granted today when historically they used to astonish societies? “The book consists of a chain of stories that begins in Ancient Alexandria and ends at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C…By pondering the relationships we have had with [animals] across the centuries, we may discover something about ourselves” (xiii-xv). Each ensuing chapter demonstrates using animals to gain power by using them as tools of war, for sport and entertainment, political favor, diplomacy, scientific research, religious ritual and self-awareness. The author presents evidence that our historical reverence for animals and the manner in which we treat them has implications on our treatment of humans and should be at the forefront of our conscience today.
This book is well organized and reader friendly. It appears to be well researched using numerous university press publications as well as many primary sources. . Her research was exhaustive, spanning journals, letters, biographies, newspapers, and textbooks, to just name a few of her numerous sources. She sought out knowledge about empires, animals, geography and foreign affairs, to thoroughly research and demonstrate to the reader how the rich and powerful used animals for power and influence.
The introduction gives an overview equating each historical period, with the significant animals of that age.
Belozerskaya’s chain of stories begins around 326 BC when Alexander the Great used elephants as warriors because of their imposing features. He assembled his troops utilizing “some one hundred elephants. Attired in dazzling decorated blankets, their bodies looming above horses and men, their tusks covered in metal tips that transformed them into battering rams… [They]...