Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bruce Coston

Bruce Coston is a veterinarian and the author of the newly released Ask The Animals: A Vet’s-Eye View of Pets and the People They Love.

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
My taste in books is widely variable and erratically eclectic. The following books are ones I am reading or have read in the last three months or so. They include the following:

1) Current read. The One Percent Doctrine by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Ron Suskind, and published by Simon and Schuster Paperbacks. This is a very enlightening, though perhaps acutely angled, inside account of America’s war on terror as prosecuted by the Bush administration. It is based on this reporter’s assembly of data from interviews, documents, and investigative reporting. No previous information I have heard has outlined so succinctly the foundational principles of the war on terror which were elucidated by Bush and Cheney. Within the administration this became known as the one percent doctrine: if there is even a one percent chance that an aggressive event is being contemplated by a terrorist network or rogue state, then America would respond as if the event was 100% reality. This stance was rooted in the perceived need for the public protection of Americans who, after 9/11, understood that potential attacks were possible, if not likely. Suskind posits, however, that the subsequent decisions and actions which arose from this doctrine have undermined the principles and freedoms of a democracy such as ours and has resulted in an unwarranted war in Iraq.

2) Will My Pet Go to Heaven? by Steve Wohlberg and published by Winepress Publishing. Over the years, this question has been posed to me by countless bleary-eyed clients and their children whose beloved pets have been eased into eternity to relieve intractable pain, disease or injury. For Christian believers who also happen to be suffering pet lovers, such a question deserves a reasoned and sensitive answer rooted as much as possible in Biblical teaching. Unfortunately, many people seek an answer from a clergy member who may be overly committed to their own theological “dog”ma or too insensitive to the hearts of their pet-loving parishioners to respond with anything but patronizing platitudes. Wohlberg’s conclusion: The Bible is silent on the specific question of whether our pets will go to heaven. But the Bible speaks volumes about three related concepts. First, animal life is precious is God’s eyes and holds a place of significant value. Second, the Bible is clear that there will be animals in heaven and that they will exist in relationship with us. And third, God loves us like a Parent and we can reasonably surmise that in a perfect world such a loving Parent would derive pleasure from making us happy. These conclusions are presented after careful evaluation of scripture from all perspectives. Bottom line, no one knows for sure, but there is no valid reason to dismiss the possibility out of hand.

3) The Collectors by David Baldacci and published by Warner Books, Hatchette Book Group USA. One of the scions of the mystery, thriller genre, Baldacci continues in The Collectors his ability to keep the reader on the seat’s edge. In this rendition, a group of collectors of rare books and documents has an insidious, but firm, grasp on the power structures in Washington; and, while wielding this power, learns of intrigue and treason that they seek to remedy. Twists and turns to the end. Baldacci’s books have taken on an even greater level of interest for me since I learned that he has a place on the same lake that I do. Granted, his is palatial and mine is postage stamp, but we share a common love of the beauty of the lake. Recently, he was gracious enough to spend an informative half hour on his dock giving me suggestions for making the most of my up-coming book release. Now he’s not only one of my favorite authors and my literary idol. He’s now also an acquaintance.

4) Alex and Me by Irene M. Pepperberg and published by Harper-Collins Publishers. Pepperberg is a behavioral scientist whose interest is in researching the facets of animal intelligence. Alex is an African Grey Parrot that she obtained as a research subject, but who quickly became a beloved companion. Dancing on the knife edge between rigorous scientist and adoring pet lover, Pepperberg documents the amazing cognitive and emotional abilities of this remarkable bird. Alex continually challenges the scientific community’s commitment to the concept that “lower” animals are not able to function on a cognitive level, think from cause to effect, draw logical conclusions or experience emotions such as anger, embarrassment or love in any meaningful way. An eye-opening and interesting book.
Read excerpts and some of the early praise for Ask the Animals, and learn more about the book and author at Bruce Coston's website.

See--Coffee with a Canine: Starr and Bruce Coston.

--Marshal Zeringue