|Overall, this was an interesting and insightful read.
My big problem with the book was that it was less scientific than I was expecting. While Grandin does reference various studies, a lot of her ideas are based on anecdotal evidence about animals and people she knows or has heard of. While this makes reading the book interesting, it doesn't really give any hard conclusions (although that could just be me taking a very neurotical stance on the whole subject and just looking at the big picture). Much of what Grandin shares are her own personal thoughts and opinions as well as connections she has made based on her own experiences. While she has had a lot of experience in this field, I still would have liked to see some hard evidence to back up her claims, just to add a little more authority to the work.
The writing was well-done and overall very easy to follow. Grandin discusses many animals including dolphins, dogs, cattle, horses, and parrots. I think the strongest part of the book was the beginning in which Grandin explains how she thinks animals perceive the world, which she based on her own experiences on the autism spectrum and her ability to put herself in situations in order to understand what an animal sees and feels.
Another issue I had with the book was there were a lot of generalizations not just about animals (pit bulls are aggressive), but also about people on the autism spectrum. It is well known that Grandin thinks in pictures and in the book she makes the assumption that all people with autism think in pictures. However, there have been people on the autism spectrum who have specifically stated that they do no think in pictures and that this assumption can easily become a harmful stereotype that hinders the education of people on the spectrum. It may be that the majority of people with autism do think in pictures, but by including everyone in the generalization, it excludes the people who do not fit into that category.
Overall, this was an interesting read, but I would have liked to have seen more scientific data. I think Grandin took a very good perspective on animals and presents her thoughts in a way that is persuasive without feeling too forceful. Her basic premise is that animals are definitely much smarter than people believe and that animals deserve respect and kindness from humans. She questions the overall hierarchy humans have created in relation to animals and I think she backs this idea up with enough stories that should make the reader question the social status of humans in the world.