London: Reaktion Books, 2015. Small octavo, paperback, colour and black and white photographs.
Reaktion Animal Series. Although the skunk generally waddles through life in a peaceful and solitary way, the animal is feared by humans due to the pungent odor it emits when threatened, and has been both demonized and venerated throughout history. Skunk provides the first cultural and natural history of this misfit creature, from their importance in agriculture and the ecosystem to their distinct role in popular culture and myth. As growing urban wildlife populations bring skunks and humans closer together, Alyce Miller offers a new understanding of an animal that is quickly becoming our new neighbour. She reveals that skunks have a long history of persecution; killed off as smelly nuisances, they have also been hunted both for their fur and their unique musk, for use in perfume. Readers will also learn about the characterization of skunks in literature, film, music, and folklore, from the Warner Brothers cartoon character Pepe Le Pew to Native American beliefs of skunk spirituality. Skunk offers a shaded depiction of this complex creature, giving an account of their biological significance and diverse role in society in an accessible, humorous way.
Whether you believe skunks to be friend or foe, Skunk offers new insights and analysis, and has much to say both to specialists and armchair admirers of these beautiful, intriguing, and distinctive animals.
Price: $25.00 AU