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The Longest Story

How humans have loved, hated and misunderstood other species?

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The contradictions and moral ambiguities of our collective attitudes to animals are baffling. By telling the love–hate story of man and beast, from their first acquaintance in deep prehistory to the present day and beyond, award-winning environmental journalist Richard Girling reveals how and where the contradictions began – and how they have persisted, warped and become magnified ever since.

Narrated by a wise contemporary everyman, aware only of what is known by people of the time, The Longest Story reveals the cumulative influence of theologians, writers, artists, philosophers and scientists century-by-century. As more knowledge is attained, stereotypes are challenged and modern perceptions – of scientific experimentation, pet-ownership, animal rights, intelligence, welfare and wildlife conservation – are questioned. Looking forward, it anticipates a future where the very nature of living organisms could be transformed by technologies more terrifying than the mythical powers of gods. With a perspective lofty enough to keep the broad sweep of history in sight and low enough to spot the telling detail, Girling paints a comprehensive and vivid portrait of humanity, as seen through our relationship to animals, in this original and thought-provoking opus.

‘A wonderful book…a tour de force’

– Jonathan Dimbleby on The Hunt for the Golden Mole

‘Tumultuously entertaining.... irresistibly engaging.’

– John Carey, Sunday Times, on The Hunt for the Golden Mole