In Gilded Age America, people and animals lived cheek-by-jowl in environments that were dirty and dangerous to man and beast alike. Cheered on by thousands of men and women who joined his cause, Bergh fought with robber barons, Five Points gangs, and legendary impresario P.T. Barnum, as they pushed for new laws to protect trolley horses, livestock, stray dogs, and other animals.
... vivid and often wrenching ... not a conventional biography, intriguing as its central figure is. The book is above all a compassionate, highly readable account of the 19th-century plight of animals, especially urban animals — and of those who tried to come to their rescue.
A Traitor to His Species is chock-full of...details, and yet the narrative’s pace never slackens. Expansive yet carefully documented, Mr. Freeberg’s book is less the biography of a man than of a noble effort that eventually spanned the nation ... In the end, A Traitor to His Species isn’t primarily about animals or their rights. Instead, as articulated in Mr. Freeberg’s clear-eyed conclusion, this is a book about us, about the searing truth that how we choose to treat animals reveals what kinds of humans we are.
... [a] vivid, often gruesome account ... Most readers will quail at the casual cruelty that Freeberg describes and that Victorians took for granted ... A successful effort to make a splendid American crusader better known.